LEXINGTON, Ky. - Senior outfielder Alice O'Brien launched her sixth home run of the season and junior outfielder Ginny Carroll lined a two-out, two-run double off the wall in left-centerfield, giving freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley all the run support she needed as the No. 19 University of Kentucky softball team posted an 8-2 series-evening win over No. 11 Missouri on Saturday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
The three-game series will conclude with a 1 p.m. ET start on Sunday. Sunday's game will be televised on the UK/IMG Sports Network and shown live to the entire Fox Sports South footprint. Admission to the game is free of charge, while live stats will be available online at UKathletics.com.
There are numerous promotions for fans Sunday at John Cropp Stadium, including a chance to win a free Nike+ Fuel Band. The first 100 fans on Sunday will receive a free package of 2013 softball trading cards, while the entire team will sign autographs after the game. Sunday will also be Senior Day as the UK softball program honors seniors Kara Dill and Alice O'Brien for four great years with Kentucky.
Offensively, Kentucky (36-15, 11-9 Southeastern Conference) was led by O'Brien and Carroll. O'Brien went 1-for-2 with her sixth home run of the season, including RBI and two runs scored. The native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., has now hit safely in four consecutive games. Carroll, who is currently riding a three-game hitting streak, went 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
In all, the Wildcats posted eight runs on nine hits, including multi-hit games from junior infielder Krystal Smith, and freshmen infielders Nikki Sagermann and Christian Stokes. Smith went 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Sagermann was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Stokes was also 2-for-3 with her first career triple and two RBI. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner was 1-for-4 with an RBI in the game.
Nunley, who got the loss Friday night in four innings of relief, was fantastic in the circle on Saturday, throwing her 17th complete game of the year to move to 22-7 overall. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., allowed two runs - one earned - on six hits with four strikeouts. For the season, Nunley has a 2.03 ERA in 203 innings pitched with 153 strikeouts - which ranks her sixth all-time in school history for a single season.
Missouri (28-9, 12-7 SEC) started senior Nicole Hudson in the circle with the pitcher throwing five innings allowing seven earned runs on nine hits with one strikeout and one walk. She was relieved to start the sixth inning by senior Lindsey Muller, who allowed an unearned run. Hudson got the loss, moving to 7-4 on the season with a 3.76 ERA.
The Tigers' offense posted two runs on six hits in the game. Senior catcher Jenna Martson went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while junior utility player Mackenzie Sykes was also 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Kentucky scored first for the second consecutive day, moving to 22-4 this season when it scores first. The rally came in the second inning and was started with a two-out single by Smith, bringing up Stokes, who hammered a line drive in the gap in right-centerfield for a triple that scored Smith and gave UK a 1-0 lead.
Missouri tied the game at one in the top of the fourth inning on a two-out RBI. After a leadoff walk to Martson, Hudson lined out for the first out of the inning before a single to centerfield by Angela Randazzo to put runners at first and second with one out. Kelsea Roth then fouled out for the second out before Sykes singled to leftfield, scoring Martson and tying the game.
The Wildcats scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take back the lead. O'Brien started the rally with a leadoff home run to rightfield, making it 2-1 Kentucky. After a groundout, Sagermann singled to centerfield and was pinch ran for by senior Kara Dill, who moved to second on the groundout by Smith. That brought up Stokes, who singled over the shortstop's head to score Dill and give UK a 3-1 lead. Stokes was caught trying to advance to second on the play to end the inning.
Kentucky extended their lead to 7-1 with a four-run fifth inning. Freshman Maisie Steed started the rally by getting hit by a pitch with one out, stealing second base after a lineout to centerfield by Joiner. Junior Lauren Cumbess then walked and O'Brien was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Carroll, who doubled off the wall in left-centerfield to score two runs. Sagermann then singled through the left side of the infield to score two more and make it 7-1 UK.
The Wildcats added an eighth run in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI groundout from Joiner before the Tigers made it an 8-2 game in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Martson.
Missouri leads the all-time series between the two schools 4-3. This series marks the first ever meeting between the two teams in SEC action. Kentucky, which started its program in 1997, played its second and third games in school history against the Tigers in Oxford, Miss., with Missouri winning both games. The two teams met again in 1999 in Chattanooga, Tenn., with the Tigers claiming a victory. UK and MU last met in 2003 at a tournament in Palo Alto, Calif., with UK winning both meetings. This weekend's games mark the first non-neutral site games in the series.
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 36-15, 11-9 SEC Missouri 28-9, 12-7 SEC
Rankings Kentucky - No. 19 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 19 in USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Missouri - No. 11 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 11 in USA Today/NFCA Top 25
Coverage Sunday, April 28 Live Stats | TV: UK/IMG Sports Network/Fox Sports South
Promotions Admission to all games is free of charge. There are numerous promotions for fans this weekend at John Cropp Stadium, including a chance to win a free Nike+ Fuel Band on Sunday. The first 100 fans on Sunday will receive a free package of 2013 softball trading cards, while the entire team will sign autographs after the game. Sunday will be Senior Day as the UK softball program honors seniors Kara Dill and Alice O'Brien for four great years with Kentucky.