Sept. 15, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With 12 returning players and eight talented young freshmen, the University of Kentucky softball team is ready to begin its fall campaign this weekend when it travels to Huntington, W.Va., to face Marshall University. The Wildcats will have a one-game set with the Thundering Herd starting at 1 p.m. ET.
The trip to Marshall begins a four-weekend fall schedule for the Wildcats, who will also make trips to Cleveland State, Georgetown College and Eastern Kentucky. In all, UK is slated to play eight fall games, all on the road as construction on the new UK Softball Complex continues.
After the single game with Marshall this weekend, Kentucky will travel to Cleveland, Ohio for a three-team round-robin event. The event starts Saturday, Sept. 22 with UK battling Pittsburgh at 12 p.m. and host Cleveland State at 4 p.m. UK will conclude action on Sunday, Sept. 23 with a rematch against both teams, facing Cleveland State at 11 a.m. and Pittsburgh at 1 p.m. All times are Eastern.
Following a weekend off from competition, Kentucky will resume action Oct. 7 when it travels to Georgetown College for a one-game set against the Tigers at 1 p.m. ET.
The fall schedule will conclude Oct. 14 when Kentucky heads just up the road to Richmond, Ky., for a doubleheader against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. The two-game slate will begin at 1 p.m. ET.
“Even though it is early in the school year, there is a buzz around the team that shows me that we are ready to put on the uniform and compete,” head coach Rachel Lawson said. “The returners have come back incredibly strong. In the weight room alone, there were 11 personal records among eight different players. It is also obvious to everyone around the program that this strength has added to our offensive potential.”
Kentucky is coming off a program-record fourth-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Wildcats finished the season with a 30-30 record, including upsetting 12 ranked opponents and finishing fifth in the Southeastern Conference for the first time in Lawson’s tenure. UK won a program-record six conference series last season, defeating Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida and LSU.
The Wildcats return 12 letterwinners from last season, including All-SEC second-team performer Kara Dill and SEC All-Freshman team honoree Griffin Joiner. Dill led the team in batting average last season with a .351 mark, including team bests in triples (five) and stolen bases (21). Dill, who started all 60 games in 2012, set a program record with a 15-game hitting streak. Joiner had a strong rookie campaign with a .278 average, posting 20 RBI and four homers. Joiner started all 60 games for UK in 2012, posting a solid fielding percentage of .986 behind the plate.
Dill and Joiner, along with senior Alice O’Brien and junior Lauren Cumbess, who won SEC Pitcher of the Week honors last season, will lead the Wildcats this season. O’Brien played in 56 games last season, hitting .265 with eight doubles and 16 RBI. Cumbess was a key two-way player for UK in 2012, leading the team in ERA at 2.78, including the first no-hitter of her career in helping clinch a series win against Georgia. At the dish, Cumbess hit .255 with eight doubles, one homerun and 18 RBI.
Eight talented freshmen join the team this season in pitchers Kaitlyn Henderson and Kelsey Nunley, outfielders Darington Richardson and Sylver Samuel, infielders Nicole Sagermann, Ansley Smith and Christian Stokes and infielder/outfield Maisie Steed. The group is expected to contribute and provide depth at several positions.
“The freshman class has also already added an overall athleticism and a competitive spirit that will help carry us throughout the grueling preseason workouts,” Lawson said. “I can’t wait until I watch them take the field and show what they are capable of producing.”
Follow @UKSoftball on Twitter for the latest updates on the UK softball team, or visit UKathletics.com.
2012 Kentucky Softball Fall Schedule
Sept. 16 at Marshall Huntington, W. Va. 1 p.m. ET
Sept. 22 vs. Pittsburgh Cleveland, Ohio 12 p.m. ET
vs. Cleveland State Cleveland, Ohio 4 p.m. ET
Sept. 23 vs. Cleveland State Cleveland, Ohio 11 a.m. ET
vs. Pittsburgh Cleveland, Ohio 1 p.m. ET
Oct. 7 Georgetown College Georgetown, Ky. 1 p.m. ET
Oct. 14 EKU (Doubleheader) Richmond, Ky. 1 p.m. ET