April 5, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. - True freshman infielder Christian Stokes and senior outfielder Alice O'Brien each hit home runs in the first inning, while freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann added a solo blast in the fourth inning, giving freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley all the run support she would need as the No. 20 University of Kentucky softball team defeated South Carolina 3-1 on Friday night at Carolina Softball Stadium.
The win for Kentucky (25-10, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) was its fourth straight in SEC action after sweeping Mississippi State two weekends ago in Lexington. The series will resume Saturday with a 4 p.m. ET first pitch, followed by a 1 p.m. ET first pitch on Sunday. Live stats and live video from both games will be available online through the links provided below. Fans can also get real-time updates on Twitter by following @UKSoftball.
Kentucky used three solo home runs to earn the win, including two in the first inning by Stokes and O'Brien. Stokes, who is a native of South Carolina and was playing in front of her family and friends, launched her fourth homer of the season to start the scoring, followed by O'Brien's fourth home run of the season two at-bats later. O'Brien led UK in hitting, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Stokes was 1-3. Sagermann also blasted a home run in the game, her third of the season, finishing 1-for-3. Sophomore Griffin Joiner, junior Lauren Cumbess and freshman Sylver Samuel all collected hits. Samuel is now on a three-game hitting streak, the longest of her career.
Nunley was fantastic for Kentucky in the circle, throwing a complete game allowing one run to get the win. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., scattered six hits in the game, striking out seven USC batters. For the season, Nunley is 16-4 with a 2.0 ERA and 106 strikeouts. Nunley's 16 wins ranks her tied for fifth on UK's single-season record list with former UK star Chanda Bell, who had 16 wins in 2012. Bell was the last player to have more than 16 wins in a single season with 18 in 2010, while she also holds the school record for wins in a season with 19 in 2009.
Nunley and the Wildcats made things interesting in the seventh inning as Nunley gave up back-to-back singles to start the frame before giving up a walk to load the bases. After sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson came out to talk with Nunley, the rookie hurler got a strikeout, infield popup and a groundout to third to end the game and seal the UK win.
South Carolina infielder Kelly Dillon went 2-for-3 in the game to lead USC, while pitcher Audrey Broyles picked up the loss after allowing all three runs in 3.1 innings pitched. Katie Marks completed the game with 3.2 innings pitched, allowing three hits and no runs.
Kentucky scored first in the game and is now 16-2 on the season when it scores first. After a groundout started the game, Stokes stepped to the dish and hit a solo home run to left-centerfield to give Kentucky the 1-0 lead. After another groundout, O'Brien gave Kentucky a 2-0 lead with a solo home run to rightfield. Broyles got a groundout to end the inning.
The Wildcats increased their lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning when Sagermann hammered her third home run of the season. The inning started with a grounder to first base before Sagermann lined a roundtripper over the wall in centerfield. Junior Ginny Carroll kept the rally going with a laser single back up the middle that deflected off the South Carolina pitcher. After a pitching change, Samuel hit an infield single to put runners on first and second with two outs before freshman Maisie Steed hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning, getting a sacrifice fly by infielder Julie Sarratt. Chelsea Hawkins started the rally with a one-out double to leftfield before an infield single by Ashlyn Masters put runners on the corners with one out. Nunley then got Sarratt to hit a deep sacrifice fly to leftfield that scored Hawkins. A pop up on the infield ended the inning with UK up 3-1.
South Carolina leads the all-time series against Kentucky 35-19, including an 18-9 mark in games played in Columbia, S.C. The Wildcats are 10-6 against the Gamecocks under Lawson, including a 5-2 mark in Columbia. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series in games played in Lexington 10-15 and at neutral sites 2-0. UK has played 54 games against USC all-time, marking the second-longest series in program history. The longest series is 57 all-time games against Georgia.
Kentucky will play host to the SEC Tournament this season for the first time in school history. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will be May 8-11 in Lexington. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU. Ticket information is available at www.UKathletics.com/secsoftball.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Kentucky 25-10, 6-4 SEC
South Carolina 19-15, 1-9 SEC
Kentucky - No. 20 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 21 in USA Today/NFCA Top 25
South Carolina - Not ranked
Saturday, April 6 - 4 p.m. ET
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Sunday, April 7 - 1 p.m. ETLive Stats
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