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No. 18 Softball Rallies, Falls Short 7-4 vs. No. 3 Florida

Freshman Maisie Steed had a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

Freshman Maisie Steed had a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

April 12, 2013

Box Score

UK-UF Box Score (PDF) | Photo Gallery

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 18 University of Kentucky softball team fell behind twice in the game, battling back both times to cut the lead to one before No. 3 Florida posted a two-run seventh inning to grab a three-run lead and seal a 7-4 series-opening victory over the Wildcats on Friday night at the UK Softball Complex in Lexington, Ky.

The series will continue Saturday with a 1 p.m. ET first pitch before concluding Sunday with a Noon ET first pitch. Live stats from Saturday’s game will be available online. Saturday’s game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU with Cara Capuano and Cheri Kempf on the call. Saturday’s contest can also be seen on ESPN3.com. Admission to both games is free of charge.

Saturday’s pregame events will include the UK Softball Complex Grand Opening Ceremony at 11:45 a.m. ET on the main stadium staircase. UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and others will speak to officially open the new stadium. The ceremony is open to all with gates of the facility opening at 11:30 a.m. ET. A commemorative ticket will be given out to all in attendance.

The weekend series is full of promotions to introduce fans to the new facility. On top of the commemorative ticket giveaway on Saturday, the first 100 fans in the facility will receive a pack of 2013 UK softball trading cards. The entire UK team will also sign autographs after Saturday and Sunday’s games. Free posters and schedule cards will be available before and after both games.

The loss for Kentucky (30-11, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) snaps a school-record tying six-game SEC winning streak after UK posted consecutive sweeps of Mississippi State and South Carolina. UK entered the weekend riding a six-game winning streak overall after the three-game sweep of USC and midweek wins over Marshall and two against EKU. The six-game winning streak was the second longest of the season.

Kentucky started junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess in the circle, who threw all seven innings, allowing seven runs – all earned – on nine hits with seven strikeouts. The native of Normall, Ill., gave up a two-run double in the first inning before keeping the powerful UF lineup in check over the next three innings before a three-run fifth inning gave Florida a 5-1 lead. Cumbess is now 8-4 on the year with a 3.13 ERA.

Cumbess kept the Wildcats in the game with her bat, going 2-for-3 with her eighth home run of the season and two RBI. Cumbess has now hit safely in seven consecutive games and has earned at least one extra-base hit in each of those games. The junior blasted a solo homer in the second inning to cut the UF lead to 2-1 before an RBI double in the fifth to cut the Florida lead to 5-2.

A pair of  UK freshman drove in runs in the sixth inning to cut the Florida lead to 5-4. Freshman pinch hitter Ansley Smith came on to bloop an RBI single into leftfield before fellow freshman Maisie Steed hit a foul sacrifice fly to rightfield to make it a one-run game.

Florida (40-4, 13-3 SEC) started ace Hannah Rogers in the game, who threw a complete game, allowing four runs – three earned – on seven hits with six strikeouts. Rogers is now 23-3 on the year with a 1.38 ERA. Lauren Haeger led UF at the plate with a three-run home run, while Kelsey Horton hit a two-run home run in the seventh to go 2-for-3 with two RBI. Stephanie Tofft went 2-for-4 in the game, including a two-RBI double in the first.

The Gators got on the board first on the two-out, two-run double by Tofft to left-centerfield. The inning started when Kelsey Stewart hit an infield single, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt. That brought up Haeger, who grounded out to third before Horton walked to put two on for Tofft. The junior delivered for the Gators, lining a double to the leftfield wall to give UF a 2-0 lead. Cumbess got out of the jam with a strikeout.

Kentucky responded with a single run in the bottom of the second inning when Cumbess blasted her team-high tying eighth home run of the season over the wall in leftfield. The home run was a leadoff shot with UK getting two runners on base with a pair of one-out walks before a fielder’s choice and a strikeout got Florida out of the inning with a 2-1 lead.

The Gators jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning on the three-run homer by Haeger. Stewart started the inning with a single up the middle before a bunt single by Kirsti Merritt, setting the stage for Haeger’s home run.

Cumbess again answered the bell offensively for Kentucky in the bottom of the fifth. After Steed walked to start the inning, freshman Christian Stokes lined out to third before sophomore Griffin Joiner grounded out to move Steed to second base. Cumbess then stepped up and hit an opposite field double to score Steed and cut the lead to 5-2.

The Wildcats answered with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Freshman Nikki Sagermann started the inning with a walk, being pinch ran for by sophomore Kara Howard. Junior Ginny Carroll then singled up the middle, moving Howard to third after a throwing error on the Florida centerfielder. With both runners in scoring position, Krystal Smith lined out on a sharply-hit ball to leftfield before Ansley Smith singled over the shortstops head to score Howard and make it a 5-3 game. Steed then hit a deep foul out to rightfield for a sacrifice fly, scoring Carroll and making it a 5-4 game.

Florida sealed the win with a two-run home run by Horton in the top of the seventh inning. After a quick out, Cumbess walked Haeger, bringing up Horton, who hit her eighth home run of the season to leftfield. Rogers worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh to clinch the series-opening win.

Florida leads the all-time series between the two teams with a 42-11 record, including a 20-6 mark in games played in Lexington. The Gators also lead the series 21-5 in games played in Gainesville, Fla. Kentucky has had more success as of late against the Gators, winning four of the last seven meetings, including a three-game sweep of Florida in 2011. Lawson is 5-10 against Florida in her tenure at UK, including a 3-3 record in games played in Lexington. UF took two of three games from UK last season in Gainesville.  

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.

Records
Kentucky 30-11, 8-5 SEC
Florida 40-4, 13-3 SEC

Rankings
Kentucky – No. 19 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 18 in USA Today/NFCA Top 25
Florida – No. 3 in USA Today/NFCA Top 25; No. 4 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25

Upcoming Schedule
Saturday, April 13 – 5 p.m. ET
Live Stats | ESPN3.com | ESPNU
-    Promotions: UK Softball Complex Grand Opening Ceremony at 11:45 a.m. ET on main stadium staircase; Commemorative ticket distributed to fans in attendance; 2013 UK softball trading cards to first 100 fans; Postgame autographs; Free posters and schedule cards.

Sunday, April 12 – 5 p.m. ET
Live Stats | Live Video
-    Promotions: Postgame autographs; Free posters and schedule cards.


 

 

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