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No. 7/9 Softball Travels South For Texas Classic

Griffin Joiner (left) and Kelsey Nunley (right) had great opening weekends for UK.

Griffin Joiner (left) and Kelsey Nunley (right) had great opening weekends for UK.

Feb. 13, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After starting the season with a 5-0 record for the first time in school history last weekend, the No. 7/9 University of Kentucky softball team returns to the field Friday when it travels to Austin, Texas to play in the four-team, three-day Texas Classic at Red and Charline McCombs Field.

Kentucky (5-0) will begin the weekend on Friday with an 11 a.m. ET battle with Louisiana Tech before a 5 p.m. ET showcase against No. 15/16 Texas. The Wildcats will conclude round-robin play with IPFW at 11 a.m. ET Saturday, followed by seeded games Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to conclude the five-game weekend. A detailed schedule with coverage links is listed below. Live stats from every game will be available on UKathletics.com, while every game will be aired live on the Longhorn Network. Check local listings for channel information.

The Wildcats started their season in style after an impressive opening weekend on the West Coast, going 5-0 to post the best start in program history. UK’s signature win over the weekend was over then-No. 2 Oklahoma in 10 innings, while it also defeated Santa Clara, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount and George Washington.

UK earned the wins behind strong pitching and hitting. Through the first five games, UK’s pitching staff has three shutouts and only five runs allowed, which both rank as the best in school history at this point in the season. Kentucky’s 39 strikeouts through five games are second most in school history, according to game-by-game records back to the 2005 season.

Offensively, UK has been just as impressive as its 31 runs scored are the third most at this point in the season in school history and its 48 hits through five games are the most UK has ever recorded. Kentucky also has 12 doubles and seven home runs through five games, which are the best in program history through five games according to game-by-game records back to 2005.

Kentucky’s strong start moved it up the rankings, coming in at No. 7 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and No. 9 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. Both rankings are program highs, surpassing UK’s previous high ranking of No. 12 in both polls. Kentucky began the season ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and No. 14 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25, which were the highest preseason rankings in school history.

The rankings mark the 17th consecutive week UK has landed inside the top 25, which ties the longest streak in school history. Kentucky was ranked in 17 consecutive polls from February 2011 to February 2012.  

Junior catcher Griffin Joiner paced UK over the weekend offensively with a .667 (10-for-15) batting average, including two doubles, three home runs and nine RBI. The strong start led to Joiner being named Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week and Southeastern Conference Player of the Week. Sophomore Darington Richardson hit .600 (3-for-5) last weekend with a triple, while seniors Ginny Carroll and Emily Jolly and sophomores Ansley Smith, Christian Stokes and Maisie Steed each blasted home runs.

Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley led UK in the circle with her first collegiate no-hitter and a 10-inning win over No. 2 Oklahoma. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., struck out a career-high 11 batters against Santa Clara in the no-hit bid, while striking out eight against Oklahoma. The sophomore ends the weekend 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings pitched. Senior Lauren Cumbess threw five strong innings in her lone outing to go 1-0 on the weekend with four strikeouts. UK’s two rookie pitchers also performed well with Meagan Prince going 1-0 with seven strong innings against Loyola Marymount before Shannon Smith’s struck out nine in seven scoreless innings against George Washington.

Louisiana Tech enters the weekend with a 2-2 record after posting wins over Tennessee-Martin and Saint Louis last weekend, while falling to Wichita State in eight innings and Houston Baptist in five innings. All four games were played in the Lady Techster Invitational that Louisiana Tech hosted last weekend. LaTech returns nine letterwinners from last season’s team that finished with a 27-26 record.

Texas, who fell to Texas-San Antonio on Wednesday, has a 4-3 record this season with wins over LSU, North Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Longhorns have lost to Texas-San Antonio, Purdue and Northern Iowa. Texas started the season ranked in the top 10 of both top 25 rankings before falling to No. 15/16 this week. The Longhorns went 51-10 last season and advanced to the Women’s College World Series.

IPFW enters the weekend with a perfect 4-0 record with wins over Valparaiso, Seton Hall, UMASS-Lowell and Campbell. The Mastodons went 34-16 last season en route to an NCAA Regional and return 14 letterwinners from that squad.

Kentucky owns a 2-1 all-time record against the three teams it will face this weekend. UK and Louisiana Tech have met twice in school history with the series tied 1-1, while UK leads the all-time series vs. Texas 1-0. Kentucky and IPFW have never met in softball. UK and Louisiana Tech first met in 1998 with Tech earning an 11-1 win, while UK evened the series in 2000 with a 5-4 win. UK’s lone meeting with Texas came in 2002 when UK took down the Longhorns 2-1 in San Antonio, Texas.

For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.

Records:
No. 7/9 Kentucky – 5-0
Louisiana Tech – 2-2
No. 15/16 Texas – 4-3
IPFW – 4-0

Schedule:
Friday, February 14, 2013
Louisiana Tech vs. Kentucky – 11 a.m. ET
IPFW vs. Louisiana Tech – 2 p.m. ET
Kentucky vs. Texas – 5 p.m. ET
IPFW vs. Texas – 7:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, February 15, 2013
IPFW vs. Kentucky – 11 a.m. ET
Louisiana Tech vs. Texas – 2 p.m. ET
Game One: Seed 1 vs. Seed 4 – 5 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. ET
Game Two: Seed 2 vs. Seed 3 – 5 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. ET
* Texas will play at 5 p.m. ET for Longhorn Network

Sunday, February 16, 2013
Winner Game One vs. Winner Game Two – 10:30 a.m. ET/12:30 a.m. ET
Loser Game One vs. Loser Game Two – 10:30 a.m. ET/12:30 a.m. ET
* Texas will play at 10:30 a.m. ET for Longhorn Network

Online Coverage:
Kentucky vs. Louisiana Tech - Live stats | Live video (Longhorn Network)
Kentucky vs. Texas - Live stats | Live video (Longhorn Network)
Kentucky vs. IPFW - Live stats | Live video (Longhorn Network)
Kentucky vs. TBA - TBA | Live video (Longhorn Network)
Kentucky vs. TBA - TBA | Live video (Longhorn Network)


 

 

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