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Gaines, Sagermann Spark Four-Run 5th as Softball Beats Kent State

Senior Lauren Cumbess hit her fourth home run of the season against Kansas.

Senior Lauren Cumbess hit her fourth home run of the season against Kansas.

March 23, 2014

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - University of Kentucky senior outfielder Emily Gaines posted two multi-hit games, including two doubles and two runs batted in, while sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann had three hits on the day, including a two-run homer and RBI triple, pacing No. 8 Kentucky to a doubleheader split over Kansas and Kent State on Sunday in the final day of the Kentucky Tournament at John Cropp Stadium.

Kentucky (27-5) started the day with a 7-5 loss to Kansas (24-10) before responding in the day's second day with a 4-2 victory over Kent State (14-12). The loss to Kansas snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Wildcats - its second longest of the season - while it also broke Kentucky's best home start in program history as UK entered the game having won each of its first seven home games. The Wildcats are now 8-1 on the year at John Cropp Stadium.

The Wildcats went 6-1 on the week and 5-1 in the Kentucky Tournament. UK started the week with a 5-0 victory at Indiana on Tuesday before winning its first four games in this weekend's event with victories over Kent State, Saint Francis, Fairfield and Kansas.

The Kentucky offense posted nine runs on the day behind 16 hits, including seven doubles, one triple, three home runs and nine RBI. Gaines led the team, going 4-for-6 on the day with two doubles and two RBI, while senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess went 3-for-6 with a double, home run and RBI. Sagermann was 3-for-7 in UK's two games with a double, triple and homer, while sophomores Christian Stokes and Maisie Steed each went 2-for-5 with Stokes hitting a double and Steed a home run and two RBI.

Kentucky's comeback effort against Kanas fell short after an impressive sixth-inning rally. The Wildcats entered the bottom of the sixth inning trailing, 4-0, but posted four runs before an out was recorded to tie the game 4-4. The rally started with a leadoff double by Gaines, who scored on Sagermann's two-run home run to leftfield. Senior infielder Krystal Smith followed the home run with a double to right field and after a Kansas pitching change, Steed drilled a home run to centerfield to tie the game.

The Jayhawks answered the rally, however, posting three runs in the seventh inning on a two-run home run from Harli Ridling and RBI groundout from Ashley Newman. Cumbess tried to start a rally for Kentucky in the bottom of the seventh, launching a solo home run to left field, but UK didn't get any closer, falling 7-5.

Cumbess started the game in the circle, throwing 4.1 innings, allowing four runs - three earned - on six hits with four strikeouts. She was replaced in the fifth inning by freshman Meagan Prince, who threw the final 2.2 innings. The rookie allowed three runs - all earned - on eight hits with five strikeouts. Prince picked up the loss, moving to 6-2 on the season. Cumbess received a no-decision.

The Wildcats answered the loss with a come-from-behind win against Kent State in game two. UK's offense started slow again before posting four runs on four hits in the fourth inning. After Stokes started the inning with a single, moving to second on a Carroll sacrifice bunt, Samuel placed a bunt to third that not only moved Stokes to third, but scored the UK shortstop. Joiner continued the rally by reaching on an error, moving to third when Cumbess hammered a double down the left-field line. That set the scene for Gaines, who drilled a single into right field, scoring Joiner and Cumbess to give UK a 3-2 lead. The UK offense wasn't finished with Sagermann following Gaines' hit with her first career triple to right field to score Gaines and put UK up 4-2.

That was all the run support sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley needed as she shut the door on the Golden Flashes the rest of the way to move to 11-2 on the season. Nunley allowed two runs - both earned - on five hits with seven strikeouts.

Kentucky will return to action next weekend when it opens up its Southeastern Conference home slate with highly ranked Auburn. The three-game series begins Friday with a 6 p.m. ET first pitch, before a 3 p.m. ET game on Saturday and 1 p.m. ET finale on Sunday.

Single game tickets for the series are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (65+) and youth (6-18). Children ages 5 and under and UK students with a valid student ID are admitted free of charge. Tickets are all general admission, and can be purchased by calling the ticket office at 1-800-928-2287. Tickets are also sold at John Cropp Stadium prior to each game, and all sales are cash only.

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