Smith's Hit Sparks Four-Run 8th as No. 10 Softball Outlasts UofL
April 30, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - With the game tied at three in the top of the eighth inning, senior infielder Krystal Smith hit a leadoff single through the left side of the infield that started a four-run rally, including a two-run double by sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann, pacing the No. 10 University of Kentucky softball team to a 7-3 victory over in-state rival Louisville on Wednesday night at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
Smith's single was the rally starter for Kentucky, setting the stage for a four-run eighth inning. Senior outfielder Emily Jolly followed with a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Smith into scoring position before an infield single by sophomore Maisie Steed and a single into shallow left-centerfield by junior catcher Griffin Joiner loaded the bases. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel brought in the eventual game-winning run on a fielder's choice to third base when the Louisville third baseman's throw home was too late to get Smith. Sagermann delivered the knockout punch with a two-run double down the rightfield line before senior Emily Gaines hit an RBI groundout to lift UK to the 7-3 win.
The win for Kentucky (41-11) ties the program record for wins in a season, equaling last's years 41 wins. UK, which posted its first 40-win regular season last weekend with a win over top-10 ranked Tennessee, earned its second win of the season over Louisville after taking down the Cardinals, 5-0, in Lexington on April 2. The two-game season sweep is the first for UK over Louisville since 2003 and its first road win against Louisville since 2006.
Kentucky will conclude regular-season play this weekend in Athens, Ga., against No. 16 Georgia. Game one of the series is set for 6 p.m. ET on Friday before a 4 p.m. start on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. finale on Sunday. The series will conclude conference action for Kentucky, who currently sits fourth in the Southeastern Conference. UK has already clinched a berth in the SEC Tournament, which will be held May 7-10 in Columbia, S.C.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley grabbed the win for Kentucky, going six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with a strikeout. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., is now 21-6 on the season and has 48 career wins at Kentucky, ranking third most all-time in program history. Freshman pitcher Meagan Prince started the game, tossing two innings, allowing one run on three hits with one strikeout to earn a no-decision.
Offensively, Kentucky hit two home runs in the game, starting with sophomore infielder Christian Stokes, who erased a 1-0 Louisville lead in the second inning with a two-run home run. The homer was her fifth of the season with Stokes finishing the game 1-for-4 with two RBI. Steed put Kentucky up 3-1 with a solo home run in the second inning, belting her seventh roundtripper of the year over the wall in centerfield. The native of Powder Springs, Ga., finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess stayed hot at the plate with a 2-for-3 game, hitting a single and a double with two walks, while Joiner went 3-for-4 with a run scored in the leadoff spot and Sagermann went 1-for-4 with two RBI. Sagermann has 42 RBI on the year, which ranks tied for sixth most in a single season in school history. Smith and Jolly each had singles in the game, while fellow senior Ginny Carroll had a pinch-hit single.
The game entered the bottom of the seventh inning with Kentucky holding on a 3-1 lead before solo home runs from Kelsi Jones - her second of the game - and Brittany Duncan tied the game at 3-3. Jones finished 2-for-4 in the game with two runs scored and two RBI, while Whitney Arion, Katie Keller, Tanner Fowler, Hannah Kiyohara and Maryssa Becker each had hits in the game.
Becker picked up the loss in the circle, moving to 12-6 on the year after allowing two runs in 5.2 innings with seven hits and four strikeouts. Caralisa Connell started the game and went 1.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits. Rachel Le Coq tossed the final two outs in the game, allowing two runs on two hits.
Louisville leads the all-time series against Kentucky 18-16, including a 9-8 edge in the series in games played in Louisville. The Cardinals had won four consecutive meetings, but the Wildcats have responded with three straight wins in the series. UK and UofL split the two-game home-and-home series last season with both teams winning their games at home. UofL leads the all-time series in games played in Lexington, 9-8. UK has played more games against Louisville than any other non-SEC team in school history.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKsoftball" on Twitter and Instagram or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.