Softball Begins 15-Game Home Stretch with Kentucky Tournament
March 20, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a successful eight-game road trip that saw the No. 8 University of Kentucky softball team post consecutive Southeastern Conference series wins on the road for the first time in program history, the Wildcats return home to begin a 15-game home stretch this weekend by hosting the Kentucky Tournament at John Cropp Stadium, starting Friday.
The 13-game, three-day tournament features Kentucky (22-4), Fairfield (2-7), Kansas (20-9), Kent State (12-9) and Saint Francis (Pa.) (13-4). The event begins Friday with five games starting at 10 a.m. ET, followed by a five-game slate on Saturday and three games on Sunday. Live stats from every game will be available on UKathletics.com, while live video streaming (subscription required) for UK’s games will also be available. Kentucky’s game Saturday against Saint Francis will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
Admission to every game this weekend at John Cropp Stadium is free of charge.
Kent State and Kansas begin the action 10 a.m. Friday, followed by Fairfield and Kansas at Noon. Kentucky starts its tournament at 2 p.m. Friday vs. Kent State, followed by Fairfield and Saint Francis at 4 p.m. and Kentucky and Saint Francis at 6 p.m. The action starts Saturday at 10 a.m. with Kent State and Fairfield, followed by Kent State and Saint Francis at Noon and Kentucky and Fairfield at 2 p.m. Kansas and Saint Francis play at 4 p.m. Saturday, while UK concludes the day with a 6 p.m. battle with Kansas. On Sunday, Fairfield and Saint Francis start the day with a 10 a.m. battle, before UK plays a doubleheader against Kansas and Kent State starting at Noon.
The tournament begins a 15-game home stretch for Kentucky, including 21 of its next 25 games at John Cropp Stadium. After six home games this weekend, UK will host consecutive home SEC sets with highly ranked Auburn and Texas A&M and three non-conference home games with Louisville (April 2), Wright State (April 8) and Mississippi Valley State (April 9) to wrap up the 15-game home stand.
The Wildcats begin the tournament with their best record 26 games into a season in school history. UK, which has won three consecutive games, is paced offensively by junior catcher Griffin Joiner, who is hitting .378 with six doubles, seven homers and 20 RBI. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel is second on the team at .341 with a double, triple and team-best four stolen bases, while seniors Emily Gaines, Lauren Cumbess and Ginny Carroll are all hitting over .300 with Cumbess adding five doubles, three homers and 13 RBI and Carroll boasting an impressive .427 on-base percentage.
In the circle, Cumbess leads UK with a 7-0 record and 1.38 ERA, striking out 47 in 55.2 innings pitched. The senior has earned the win in each of UK’s last two games, throwing a perfect 1.2 innings of relief against highly ranked Missouri in the series finale before seven scoreless innings against Indiana on Tuesday. Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley is 8-2 with a 1.89 ERA, striking out 55 in 77.2 innings pitched, while freshman Meagan Prince is 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 30.2 innings pitched. Fellow freshman Shannon Smith is 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched.
The Fairfield Stags enter the weekend with a 2-7 record after having several games canceled this season due to weather. The Stags have wins against Lamar and Dartmouth. Junior outfielder Sammy Ruffalo leads the Stags with a .400 batting average, adding one triple and four RBI, while senior infielder Kristen Filicia is hitting .385 with three doubles, one triple and four RBI. Senior pitcher Rae Ball is 2-2 with a 4.32 ERA in the circle, striking out 20 in 25 innings pitched, while senior pitcher Rebecca Trott is 0-4 with a 5.49 ERA. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Falkanger is 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA.
Kansas starts the tournament with a 20-9 record, coming off a doubleheader split at Saint Louis on Wednesday. The Jayhawks are 4-2 in true road games this season and 12-6 in neutral site games. Kansas is paced offensively by sophomore infielder Chaley Brickey, who is hitting .429 with eight doubles, six homers and 20 RBI. Junior utility player Maddie Stein leads the team in RBI with 28 behind seven doubles and a .376 average, while senior outfielder Taylor Hatfield is hitting .345 with two triples and 15 RBI. In the circle, sophomore pitcher Kelsey Kessler is 11-6 with a 1.54 ERA, striking out 153 in 118.1 innings pitched, while junior pitcher Alicia Pille is 8-3 with a 1.39 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched.
Kent State comes to Lexington with a 12-9 record, having already defeated the Wildcats once this season at the FAU Invitational in Boca Raton, Fla. The Golden Flashes are 2-4 in true road games and 10-5 in neutral site games. Freshman infielder Maddy Grimm leads the team with a .317 batting average, adding three doubles, two triples, six homers and 24 RBI. Junior outfielder Kim Kirkpatrick is hitting .302 with five doubles, while junior outfielder Dani Ramos has two triples and seven RBI. Junior pitcher Emma Johnson leads the team with a 7-4 record and 1.69 ERA, striking out 82 in 70.1 innings pitched. Freshman Ronnie Ladines and senior Lauren McNeil are each 2-2, while freshman Janel Hayes is 1-1 with a 7.97 ERA.
Saint Francis enters the weekend with a 13-4 record, including a 12-2 mark in neutral site games and 1-2 post in true road games. Senior catcher Chelsy Cosentino leads the team with a .412 average, adding six doubles, two triples and a homer, while freshman infielder/pitcher Alexis Bower is hitting .396 with two homers and a team-best 21 RBI. In the circle, Bower is 5-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 34.2 innings pitched, while sophomore pitcher Ketarah DeVries is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched.
Kentucky holds the all-time series leads 10-4 against the field this weekend. UK leads the all-time series with Kent State 9-3 after falling to the Golden Flashes earlier this season in a neutral site game. UK has never played St. Francis or Fairfield, while the series with Kansas is tied 1-1.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter and Instagram or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Saturday, March 22
Sunday, March 23