Cumbess, Gaines, Steed Homer as Softball Falls to No. 21 Auburn
March 28, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 10 University of Kentucky softball team posted five runs in the first three innings and received solo home runs from seniors Lauren Cumbess and Emily Gaines, and sophomore Maisie Steed, but No. 21 Auburn rallied for five runs in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth, outlasting Kentucky to claim a 7-6 series-opening win on Friday night at John Cropp Stadium.
The series continues on Saturday with a 3 p.m. ET first pitch before a 1 p.m. ET series final on Sunday. Live stats and live video (subscription required) will be available online for both games, while free live radio for both games will also be available at UKathletics.com.
Single-game tickets into John Cropp Stadium 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. Gates open one hour prior to first pitch. The entire UK team will sign autographs following the games on Saturday and Sunday.
Kentucky (27-6, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) had an impressive start to the game, posting three runs in the first inning and two more in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead in the game. The Wildcats earned the big lead after Ansley Smith started the game with a leadoff double, moving to third when sophomore Sylver Samuel placed a perfect bunt single in front of home plate. UK scored its first run on a perfectly executed double steal before junior catcher Griffin Joiner walked and Cumbess singled to third base to load the bases. After a Gaines fielder's choice put UK up 2-0, sophomore Nikki Sagermann hit a sacrifice fly to right field to give UK a 3-0 lead.
UK increased its lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the third inning with solo home runs from Cumbess and Steed. Auburn (30-5-1, 5-2 SEC) answered in a big way in the top of the fourth, however, scoring five runs on four hits behind two Kentucky errors. The inning started with a single by Kasey Cooper, who moved to second when Branndi Melero reached on a UK error. After a bunt single by Jade Rhodes loaded the bases with no outs, Auburn hit back-to-back singles to cut the lead to 5-2 before a UK throwing error scored two more runs and a RBI groundout tied the game at 5-5. The Tigers grabbed their first lead of the game the next inning, getting a two-run home run by Melero, to put AU up 7-5.
Kentucky rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning getting a two-out home run from Gaines before back-to-back walks to Sagermann and Steed and a hit-by-pitch by Jolly loaded the bases for Stokes, who popped out to centerfield to end the game.
Offensively, Kentucky was paced by Cumbess, who went 2-for-4 with a home run and an RBI, while Steed and Gaines each had home runs with Gaines posting two RBI. Sagermann earned the other RBI for Kentucky, while Ansley Smith, Samuel, Joiner, Jolly and Stokes each had hits in the game.
Kentucky started pitcher Kelsey Nunley in the circle with the sophomore going all seven innings, allowing seven runs - four earned - on nine hits with seven strikeouts. The hurler retired nine of the first 11 batters she faced in the game, including six by strikeouts, before Auburn's five-run fourth inning.
The Tigers started Lexi Davis in the circle with the sophomore going seven innings, allowing six runs - all earned - on nine hits with five strikeouts. Davis was replaced with a runner on first and two outs in the seventh inning by Marcy Harper, who threw a four-pitch walk to Steed before Davis reentered the game for the win.
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