LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman infielder Christian Stokes blasted two solo home runs, while junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess and senior outfielder Alice O’Brien each added solo shots against Arizona State’s Dallas Escobedo, who entered the game having not allowed an earned run in 31 consecutive innings, but it wasn’t enough as No. 5 ASU scored three runs in the third and two in the fifth to take game one of the Tempe Super Regional, 5-4 on Saturday night at Farrington Stadium.
Day two of the Tempe Super Regional will start Sunday at 5 p.m. ET with game two of the best-of-three set on ESPN. Kentucky will be the home team in the game. An if necessary game three of the series will be played at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. Both games will be available on WatchESPN.
Fans can also hear every game of the Tempe Super Regional on the UK/IMG Sports Radio Network with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game on 630AM WLAP while it will also be available online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (41-20) had a great night offensively in the game, blasting four solo home runs. The four-homer night marked the most in a single NCAA Tournament game in school history for Kentucky. Stokes was the leader at the dish, going 2-for-3 with her sixth and seventh home runs of the season. The native of Chesterfield, S.C., becomes the second player in school history to hit two home runs in a NCAA Tournament game.
Cumbess and O’Brien also had roundtrippers in the game with Cumbess blasting her team-leading 13th home run of the season – which ranks tied for third most in a single-season in school history – while O’Brien launched her eighth of the season. Freshmen infielder Nikki Sagermann and outfielders Maisie Steed and Sylver Samuel also had singles in the game as UK outhit the Sun Devils 7-5. Defensively, UK was solid, not committing an error in the game.
Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley got the start in the circle, throwing all six innings, allowing five runs – all earned – on five hits with two walks and a strikeout. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., now sits 27-10 on the season with a 2.06 ERA.
Arizona State started Escobedo in the circle, who entered the game having not allowed an earned run in 31 consecutive innings. That streak was snapped in the fifth inning when Stokes hit her first of the season. Overall, Escobedo threw six innings, allowing four runs – all earned – on seven hits with two strikeouts. Mackenzie Papescue pitched the seventh inning, giving up a two-out walk before getting Cumbess to groundout to end the threat and earn the save. Escobedo got the win to move to 29-4.
Offensively, ASU was paced by shortstop Cheyenne Coyle, who went 1-for-2 with a three-run home run and sacrifice fly for four RBI. Leadoff hitter Alix Johnson was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a RBI triple, while Baily Wigness was 1-for-1 with two runs scored.
Arizona State (49-10) started the scoring in the game, getting a three-run home run by Cheyenne Coyle in the third inning. After a one-pitch out to start the frame, Wigness hit an infield single, moving into scoring position on a single to leftfield by Johnson. That set the stage for Coyle, who lined a home run to leftfield that just got over the wall to put the Sun Devils up 3-0. Nunley got two popups to end the frame.
Kentucky got on the board in the fifth inning when Stokes crushed her sixth home run of the season well over the wall in centerfield. After a groundout to start the frame, Stokes put UK on the board with a solo shot to centerfield. Steed then tried to keep the rally alive with a single through the left side of the infield, before Dill reached on an error to put runners on first and second for Joiner, who popped up to end the threat.
The Sun Devils answered back with two runs in the fifth inning. After a leadoff walk to start the inning, Johnson hit a triple to the wall in left-centerfield to score a run and make it 4-1 ASU. Coyle then drove in her fourth RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly to leftfield before Nunley got a flyout and a lineout to end the frame.
UK clawed itself back into the game in the sixth inning, hitting three solo home runs to cut the Arizona State lead to 5-4. Cumbess started the inning with a leadoff homer, before O’Brien hit a laser just fair to rightfield with one out to make it 5-3. Stokes then cut the ASU lead to 5-4 with her second homer of the night to left-centerfield.
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NCAA Tempe Super Regional Kentucky - 41-20 Arizona State - 49-10
Schedule Game One: Saturday, May 25 – Arizona State def. Kentucky 5-4 Game Two: Sunday, May 26 - Arizona State vs. Kentucky - 5 p.m. ET - ESPN Game Three: Sunday, May 26 - Kentucky vs. Arizona State - 8 p.m. ET - ESPN2* * If necessary
Kentucky Postgame Quotes May 25, 2013 Kentucky Head Coach Rachel Lawson Opening Statement … “I thought today’s game was a good game. I thought it showed well on TV. I thought both teams hit the ball well. I thought both pitchers did a good job planning the zone and I just thought both teams did a good job putting the barrel on the ball and making it exciting for fans to watch.”
On the team’s offensive performance … “I thought our team did a nice job off of Dallas (Escobedo). That’s the best hitting performance we have had in a little while so I thought we did a nice job squaring up on some of her pitches. She has a couple different heights that she uses and luckily we didn’t fish too often at the super high ones. I thought we did a nice job putting the barrel on it and being on time for it.”
On what Escobedo did to be effective … “The thing with her is she is not very predictable in terms of what she is throwing and on what side of the plate. You really just have to get in there and look at the ball and hope that you get one of the lower ones. It’s hard to game plan against her because she is so good at mixing things up.”
On Arizona State pitching Mackenzie Popescue in the seventh inning … “I personally thought it was a good move on their part. We had never seen her live, we have seen her a little bit on TV but not live. She actually throws the ball a little harder than we had anticipated but she did such a great job of keeping the ball low and she did a nice job of getting the first two batters out in the inning which I thought was key for the inning.”
On Kelsey Nunley’s performance … “Overall I thought she did a nice job. I think they did a good job of getting the leadoff batter on. I think they did a nice job of getting on base and being selective. I think that really put her behind because they have such a good top of the order and I think overall she did really well. She probably had four or five pitches that weren’t very good and a team like ASU they will capitalize when you don’t put the ball where you want to.”
On the team’s confidence level … “Our confidence level is good. Our confidence level is always the same, that’s one of the products of being in the SEC or Pac-12. I think because every game is a new game and you know you can go out and get beat one day but you are a good enough team to come back the next day so that’s the one thing that these power conferences prepare you because every time you wake up you know you have to play an outstanding team. While ASU is certainly incredible, we have been through this before. I think more than anything we are steady and our confidence usually remains the same.”
#10, Christian Stokes, Fr., INF On her night at the plate … “My first at bat wasn’t too good so I knew I had to make and adjustment and I knew she was coming with a rise ball. She had a really good jump on her rise ball and I just tried to look for something low that I could drive.”
On the feeling in the dugout when the team got down 5-1 … “I don’t think it’s over until it’s over. We just kind of ran out of time in the end but we were on her pretty good.”
On scoring four runs on Dallas Escobedo … “Our team as a whole was on her pretty good tonight so I hope we can continue that into tomorrow.”
On playing before in Farrington Stadium … “I think it was good that we had played here before so we kind of knew how the field was. We knew coming in the field was going to be kind of hard. They kept it watered pretty good so it wasn’t as bad as what we thought it was going to be.”
#19, Lauren Cumbess, Jr., P/INF On what the players were saying to each other during UK’s sixth inning rally … “We just kind of congratulate each other and pump each other up. I knew she knew what she was doing up there and we just kind of congratulate each other.”
On the feeling the dugout after UK got down 5-1 … “Like Christian said it’s not over until it’s over and we all stayed positive as a team and we knew we would keep chipping away until something happened and we all just stayed positive and tried to keep driving the ball.”
On scoring four runs on Dallas Escobedo … “We worked a lot in practice all week and we were just trying to string some hits together. It would have been nice if we had more people on base but that is what we are going to work on tomorrow and try to string them together so if we do get a big hit then we will score more runs.”
On the team’s confidence … “We have very high confidence like coach said. We know ASU is going to hit it’s just a matter of if we can hit and keep up with them. We are going to try to keep them off base but its no surprise that they are going to get their runs, we are just going to try to get more.”