No. 10 Softball Begins Four-Game Road Stretch at Louisville
April 29, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking to end the regular season on a high note, the No. 10 University of Kentucky softball team begins a four-game road stretch to end regular-season play on Wednesday when it travels to face in-state rival Louisville for a 6 p.m. ET first pitch at Ulmer Stadium.
The game between the two in-state foes is the finale of a two-game, home-and-home series that started on April 2 when Kentucky (40-11) earned a 5-0 victory over Louisville (31-18) at John Cropp Stadium. Live stats and free radio from Wednesday’s game will be available online at UKathletics.com, while live video (subscription required) will be available at the link provided below.
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.
UK is coming off a series loss to top-10 ranked Tennessee last weekend with the Wildcats earning a win on Saturday before dropping the series in the finale on Sunday. UK’s win on Saturday was its 40th of the season, marking the first 40-win regular season in program history. The win was the 11th this season for Kentucky against a team either ranked or receiving votes at the time UK played them. UK took down the defending national champions and then-No. 2 Oklahoma in its opening weekend, before defeating then-No. 15 Texas twice the following weekend. To start SEC play, UK picked up two wins over Mississippi State, who was/is receiving votes, and then-No. 16 Missouri. The Wildcats have also defeated No. 21 Auburn and earned two wins over No. 18 Texas A&M.
The Wildcats fell one spot to No. 10 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 and No. 11 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 on Tuesday. Kentucky has been ranked in the top 15 of both polls all season long and has landed inside the top 10 of both listings eight times this season. Tuesday’s rankings mark the 28th consecutive week UK has been ranked, which is the longest stretch in program history.
Kentucky has been led this season offensively by senior outfielder Emily Gaines, who is hitting .387 (36-for-93) with seven doubles, five homers and 33 runs batted in, while sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann paces the team with 11 homers and 40 RBI. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel is hitting .342 (41-for-120) with a team-best 15 stolen bases, while senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess and junior catcher Griffin Joiner are hitting over .300 with Cumbess adding eight homers and 34 RBI and Joiner posting eight roundtrippers and 28 RBI.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley leads UK in the circle with a 20-6 record and 2.12 ERA in 171.1 innings pitched with 140 strikeouts. Nunley, who earned her 20th win of the season last Tuesday at WKU, is the only player in school history to win 20 or more games in a season, accomplishing the feat in each of her two years at Kentucky. Cumbess is 10-0 this season with a 1.83 ERA in 88 innings pitched with opponents hitting just .202 against her. Freshmen pitchers Meagan Prince and Shannon Smith have contributed some solid innings for UK with Prince sitting 8-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 64 innings pitched, while Shannon Smith is 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 35.1 innings pitched.
The Wildcat defense has been solid this season with a .974 fielding percentage, which ranks fourth best in the SEC. Joiner, along with senior outfielder Emily Jolly and sophomore utility player Maisie Steed, have a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage this season. Kentucky is an impressive 22-2 this year when it does not commit an error.
Louisville enters the midweek showdown with a 31-18 record, including a 21-6 mark at Ulmer Stadium. Wednesday’s game concludes a four-game home stand for UofL, who claimed all three games it played last weekend against Temple, including two run-rule shortened games. Since falling to Kentucky 5-0 on April 2, the Cardinals have won 11 of their last 14 games and are currently on a 10-game home winning streak. Louisville started the season ranked in the top 25 of both national listings and have been receiving votes most of the season. UofL currently sits at No. 40 in the NCAA RPI.
Senior infielder Katie Keller paces the team offensively with a .386 (56-for-145) batting average, adding 16 doubles, two triples, three homer and 26 RBI. Senior catcher/infielder Tanner Fowler is second with a .355 average, including 10 doubles, seven homers and 28 RBI, while junior outfielder Kelsi Jones has a .331 average with a team-high nine homers and 34 RBI. Jones also leads the team in stolen bases this season with 11. Junior infielder Kayla Soles has six homers this season, while junior infielders Whitney Arion and Brittany Duncan each have five homers.
In the circle, pitcher/infielder Maryssa Becker paces the team with a 12-5 record and 1.94 ERA, striking out 121 in 122.2 innings pitched. Senior pitcher Rachel Le Coq is 10-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 102.0 innings pitched, while senior pitcher Caralisa Connell is 9-5 with a 3.44 ERA in 79.1 innings pitched. Freshman utility player Tiarra Sanabria is 0-0 with a 5.37 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched.
Louisville leads the all-time series against Kentucky 18-15, including a 9-7 edge in the series in games played in Louisville. The Cardinals had won four consecutive meetings before a UK walk-off win last season and a 5-0 victory earlier this season by Kentucky. 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. A UK win on Wednesday would mark its first win at Louisville since 2006 and the first season sweep of the Cardinals since 2003.
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