Cumbess, Prince Lead No. 9 Softball to Win Over No. 8 Lady Vols
April 26, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - University of Kentucky senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess tossed four strong innings in the circle and launched her eighth home run of the season, while freshman pitcher Meagan Prince came on in relief to toss three scoreless innings with four strikeouts, leading No. 9 Kentucky to a 5-2 series-evening win over No. 8 Tennessee on Saturday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky (40-10, 13-7 Southeastern Conference) got an impressive performance in the circle and at the plate from Cumbess to start the game with the senior belting a two-run home run in the second inning before tossing four innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts. Cumbess gave way to Prince to start the fifth inning with the freshman silencing the Lady Vols the rest of the way, allowing only three hits with four strikeouts in the scoreless outing. Prince threw a dominating sixth inning, striking out the side after UK had taken a two-run lead.
"When Meagan came out in the sixth inning she was just awesome," UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. "She was throwing the ball hard and it was breaking. It didn't make a lot of sense to take her out in the seventh (for staff ace Kelsey Nunley). I felt like today was her day. She came out and capitalized against the top of the (Tennessee) order, which is very good, in the top of the seventh. It was a great day for Meagan."
The two hurlers combined to only allow the high-powered Tennessee offense to score two runs, which marked only the seventh time this season and third time in conference action that UT has been held to two or less runs. Cumbess and Prince combined for eight strikeouts, which is only the seventh time this season and third in league action that UT has been struck out eight or more times.
"I thought Lauren was great, and then when Meagan came in, that was probably one of her best performances of the year," Lawson said. "I didn't really have to call any pitches, I just sat back and let her throw, and she did an awesome job today."
Kentucky's offense made a winner out of Prince with two runs in the fifth inning to grab a lead it would not relinquish. The game-winning rally started when junior catcher Griffin Joiner reached on a fielding error, moving to second on a bunt single by sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel. That set the scene for sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann, who lined a single up the middle that scored Joiner. Sagermann was out trying to advance to second base on the throw home, but the throw to get Sagermann out allowed Samuel to come home and score and put Kentucky up 4-2.
UK added an insurance run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by senior Emily Jolly after Cumbess - who went 2-for-3 in the game with a two-run homer- started the inning with a double. The three-run lead was enough for UK as Prince allowed a runner to reach in the seventh, but nothing else to seal the victory.
The game-winning RBI by Sagermann marked the fourth time in the last seven games that the native of Buford, Ga., has drove in the game-winning run. Sagermann finished the game 1-for-3 and now has an RBI in 14 of her last 20 games. Cumbess has a hit in 22 of her last 27 games and has 111 RBI in her career, which ranks tied for seventh most in a career in school history.
The win was the ninth this season against a team ranked at the time UK has played them, including two against top-10 teams. Kentucky has now defeated 49 ranked foes in Lawson's seven-year tenure. The victory also moves the Wildcats back into a tie for second place in the SEC standings with Tennessee and Missouri. Kentucky has 40 wins this season, which is one off the program record for wins, which was set last year when UK finished 41-21 en route to the second NCAA Super Regional in school history.
The game was played in front of 1,858 fans, marking the second largest crowd in UK history. Nearly 3,000 fans have come through the turnstiles for the three-game series, which will conclude Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Live stats and free radio will be available online, while live video (subscription required) will be available online at UKathletics.com.
Sunday's finale will be Senior Day at John Cropp Stadium as the UK softball program honors the dedication and excellence of seniors Ginny Carroll, Lauren Cumbess, Sarah Frazer, Emily Gaines, Emily Jolly and Krystal Smith. A ceremony to honor the seniors will be held pregame on the field.
Single-game tickets 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. Junior Wildcat Club members can receive free admission to this weekend's games, plus a guest. The entire UK team will sign autographs following Sunday's game.
Tennessee (38-9, 13-7 SEC) started Cheyanne Tarango in the circle with the junior tossing two innings, allowing two earned runs on two hits with two strikeouts and a walk. The Lady Vols turned to sophomore Rainey Gaffin to start the third inning with the pitcher going 2.2 innings, allowing two runs - both unearned - on two hits with one strikeout. Sophomore Erin Gabriel tossed the final 1.1 innings, allowing an earned run on one hit with two strikeouts. Gaffin received the loss, moving to 5-3 on the season.
Offensively, Tennessee was paced by a two-hit night from senior Melissa Davin, who went 2-for-4, while senior Madison Shipman was 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Freshman outfielder Megan Geer had an RBI single, while freshman Taylor Koenig went 2-for-3.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKsoftball" on Twitter and Instagram or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Saturday, April 26
Lawson on Win
Cumbess on Home Run, Win
Prince on Three Scoreless Innings
Sagermann on Game-Winning RBI