LEXINGTON, Ky. – Junior outfielder Ginny Carroll laced a bases-loaded, walk-off single into right-centerfield to cap off a three-run, seventh-inning rally lifting the No. 20 University of Kentucky softball team to a thrilling 4-3 victory Tuesday night at the UK Softball Complex in Lexington, Ky. The win was Kentucky’s fourth consecutive after sweeping Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina last weekend.
The wild seventh inning started with the game tied 1-1 before Marshall posted two runs in the top of the seventh inning before UK’s three-run seventh to win the game. Alexandra Bayne started Marshall’s rally with a double to centerfield to bring up Kaelynn Greene, who bunted for a hit, making a sharp turn around first base. The sharp turn drew a throw to second base, where centerfield Sylver Samuel was covering the bag. Samuel ran Greene back to first before noticing that Bayne was heading home attempting the score. Bayne beat the throw home to untie the game and Greene took second base. With a runner at second and no outs, Ashley Gue singled through the rightside of the infield, scoring Greene and giving the Thundering Herd a 3-1 lead. UK true freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley got out of the jam with a strikeout and back-to-back groundouts.
Kentucky’s three-run seventh had just as much adventure. Freshman Maisie Steed started the game-winning rally with an infield single to the shortstop. A few pitches later with freshman Christian Stokes at the plate, Steed advanced to second on a wild pitch with the Marshall catcher fielding the ball and attempting to throw to second base before the ball hit Marshall pitcher Andi Williamson and deflected into leftfield allowing Steed to move to third. Stokes later hit a slow roller to third that the third baseman gathered and threw wildly behind Steed at third, allowing Steed to score and Stokes to move to second base.
Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner kept the rally alive with a walk and was pinch-ran for by sophomore Kara Howard. Junior Lauren Cumbess tied the game at 3-3 with her double off the third baseman’s glove, scoring Stokes and putting runners at second and third for senior Alice O’Brien, who was intentionally walked. Freshman Nikki Sagermann followed with a grounder back to the pitcher for a fielder’s choice at home to keep the bases loaded. That set the stage for Carroll, who hammered a full-count pitch over the drawn in centerfielder to score the winning run and end the game.
Five Wildcats collected hits in the game with Carroll finishing 1-for-4 with an RBI. Steed and Stokes were also 1-for-4 in the game with each scoring a run, while Cumbess was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Sagermann was 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Nunley earned the win in the game, throwing all seven innings, allowing three runs – two earned – on eight hits with four strikeouts. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., is now 18-4 on the season, becoming only the third player in school history to record 18 or more wins in a season. Nunley is now tied for second on UK’s single-season wins list with former UK star Chanda Bell. Bell and Keary Camunas own the school record for wins in a season with 19 in 2009 and 2000, respectively. Nunley has now thrown 154.1 innings this season with 121 strikeouts, which ranks her tied for eighth on the single-season record list.
Williamson earned the loss for Marshall (25-14) throwing a complete game allowing four runs – three earned – on six hits with two strikeouts. Williamson is now 24-13 on the year and entered Tuesday’s game leading the NCAA in strikeouts. The top of Marshall’s order did most of the damage at the plate with Greene going 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Gue was 3-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI. Bayne also went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Kentucky (27-10) will return to action Wednesday with a doubleheader at Eastern Kentucky starting at 2 p.m. ET. Live stats from both games will be available on UKathletics.com.
EKU is 23-14 overall this season and 10-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Colonels have won four straight games, winning both games of a doubleheader against Murray State and Austin Peay over the weekend. Freshman Sarah Fobbs leads the team in hitting this season with a .356 (32-for-90) average, belting five doubles and eight homers with 23 RBI. Senior infielder Raquel Howes leads the team in RBI with 26 along with seven home runs, while sophomore catcher/infielder Katie Tackett has also hammered seven home runs. Sophomore pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger leads the team in the circle with a 14-7 record and 1.97 ERA, while sophomore pitcher Shaylon Robb is 7-7 with a 3.49 ERA.
After the midweek action, UK will return to conference play April 12-14 vs. Florida. The weekend series will be packed with excitement as UK will officially open the newly constructed UK Softball Complex. The weekend will feature numerous promotions to introduce UK fans to the new facility, including a grand opening ceremony on Saturday beginning at approximately 11:45 a.m. ET. Gates to the stadium will open at 11:30 a.m. ET with the dedication ceremony taking place on the main staircase of the stadium.
Both teams got on the board in the fourth inning with single runs. Gue started the Marshall fourth inning with a single, moving to second when Shaelynn Braxton was hit by a pitch. Marshall then tried a double steal with Joiner throwing to third base out of reach of the fielder who was late covering, allowing Gue to score.
UK tied the game in the bottom of the frame after O’Brien singled to the shortstop and Sagermann singled down the rightfield line. Carroll then loaded the bases after reaching on an error. Krystal Smith hit into a fielder’s choice to keep the bases loaded for pinch hitter Emily Gaines, who walked to tie the game 1-1.
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.
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