Sagermann HR Powers No. 8 Softball Past Arkansas in Opener
April 18, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Trailing by three runs heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, the No. 8 University of Kentucky softball team scored four unanswered runs, including a game-winning home run from sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann, leading the Wildcats to a 4-3 series-opening victory on Friday night at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky (37-8, 11-5 Southeastern Conference) posted three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning behind two Arkansas errors to tie the game 3-3. The rally started after sophomore infielder Ansley Smith drew a one-out walk, moving to second on a single by senior outfielder Emily Jolly. Sophomore utility player Maisie Steed followed with a ground ball to the Arkansas third baseman, who threw wildly to first to allow two runners to score and Steed to advance all the way to third base. After a pop up for the second out and a walk, senior outfielder Emily Gaines reached on a fielding error that scored Steed from third and tied the game.
That set the stage for Sagermann, who belted a 2-0 pitch over the wall in centerfield for her team-leading ninth home run of the season, giving UK a 4-3 lead it did not relinquish. The game-winning solo home run for Sagermann marked the second consecutive game she has won on a solo home run. The sophomore from Buford, Ga., hit a solo home run to lead off the 10th inning last Sunday at Ole Miss, pacing UK to the eventual win.
Sagermann finished the game 1-for-2 and now has an RBI in 11 of UK's last 15 games, including six multi-RBI games during that stretch. Ansley Smith was 1-for-1 in the game with a walk and infield single, while Jolly went 1-for-2 with a single and walk - on a 15-pitch at-bat - and senior outfielder Ginny Carroll was 1-for-1.
Freshman pitcher Meagan Prince started in the circle for UK, earning her third league start of the season. The native of Martin, Tenn., went three innings, allowing three runs - two earned - on four hits with one walk. Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley took over in the circle to start the fourth inning, tossing four scoreless innings, allowing only one hit with two strikeouts. Nunley faced 14 batters in the game, retiring 12 to earn her team-best 18th win of the season.
The win was Kentucky's 37th of the season, marking the second-most regular-season wins in school history. UK set a school record with 41 wins last season, including 38 in the regular season. The victory also extended UK's winning streak to eight games, which is only the seventh time in school history a team has won eight consecutive games. It is the sixth time a Rachel Lawson coached team has accomplished that feat and the second time UK has won eight or more straight games this season.
Arkansas (25-21, 3-13 SEC) started freshman pitcher Sydney Wright, who went six innings, allowing four runs - one earned - on four hits with one strikeout. Offensively, shortstop Clarisa Navarro and rightfielder Amanda Geile each had RBI, while centerfielder Stephanie Canfield, catcher Jayme Gee and second baseman Chloe Oprzedek also recorded singles.
The series will continue Saturday at 6 p.m. ET before a 1 p.m. ET series finale on Sunday. Live stats and free live radio from both games will be available on UKathletics.com. Saturday night's games will be televised by the UK/IMG Sports Network on CWKYT in Central Kentucky and on the entire Fox Sports South footprint. Live video (subscription required) will be available online for Sunday's game only.
Fans will have countless promotions to enjoy this weekend at John Cropp Stadium, including the entire UK team signing autographs on Saturday and Sunday following each game. The series will serve as Little League Weekend at JCS as all little leaguers will receive free admission to every game, while a poster station will be set up on the main concourse for fans to make a poster to help cheer on the Wildcats. The first 100 fans into John Cropp Stadium on Sunday will receive a set of 2014 softball trading cards.
Single-game tickets into John Cropp Stadium are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (65+) and youth (6-18). Children ages 5 and under 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. Fans that show the #SocialSpecial softball photo at the gate that was put on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram earlier this week, will receive free admission for up to four.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKsoftball" on Twitter and Instagram or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Sunday - #SocialSpecial admission coupon; Little League Day; Poster station; Free posters and schedule cards; Team autographs following the game; First 100 fans receive softball trading cards
Rachel Lawson on 4-3 Win