LEXINGTON, Ky. (5/6/13) – Freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann went 3-for-5 in the game, including a game-winning, three-run home run in the eighth inning – tying the school record with six RBI in the game – while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner posted four hits and freshman Maisie Steed hit a home run and robbed a grand slam in the eighth inning to save the game, lifting the No. 19 University of Kentucky softball team a 9-5 extra-inning victory – clinching a historic series win – over No. 7 Alabama on Sunday at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The series win is the first for Kentucky (38-17, 13-11 Southeastern Conference) over the perennial national power in school history. Entering the series, UK had two all-time wins against Alabama in school history, equaling that total this weekend alone. On Saturday, UK took down Alabama 5-0 behind a great pitching performance from freshman Kelsey Nunley, marking the first time Alabama had been shutout at home since 2010. The win Saturday was UK’s first ever in Tuscaloosa.
Kentucky has won nine games against ranked foes this season and 40 all-time under sixth-year head Coach Rachel Lawson, who has won 24 games against top 10 teams in her tenure at UK. So far this season, UK has 11 wins against teams currently ranked or receiving votes in either top 25 poll.
Sagermann was special for Kentucky at the dish on Sunday, going 3-for-5 with a double, home run and six RBI. The native of Buford, Ga., started her career day with an RBI double in the fifth inning before a two-run single in the sixth inning and the three-run, game-winning home run in the eighth inning. Sagermann set career highs in at-bats, hits and RBI.
Joiner also had a great game at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a home run, double, two singles and a RBI. The four hits tied a career high for Joiner, who hit her 10th home run of the season in the eighth inning to make it 9-5 Kentucky and seal the win. Junior infielder Krystal Smith went 2-for-4 in the game, while fellow junior Emily Jolly had a double and Steed, who made the catch of the year for UK in the eighth inning, had a solo home run to start the game.
The Wildcats held a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning before Alabama (41-12, 13-11 SEC) rallied for four runs to cut the Wildcat lead to 5-4. After UK went scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Crimson Tide posted a run on a sacrifice foul out to tie the game and send it to extra innings. The UK bats responded, getting four runs in the top of the eighth, all on home runs, to take a 9-5 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Alabama didn’t go quietly in the final frame, loading the bases with one out before Nunley got a lineout to third for the second out to bring up Kaila Hunt with the bases still loaded. Nunley got ahead of Hunt in the count before the Alabama second baseman launched a 2-2 pitch deep to leftfield that Steed tracked to the wall and jumped to make the catch, robbing Hunt of the game-tying grand slam and clinching the Wildcats’ win.
The win Sunday earned Kentucky a No. 7 seed in the 2013 SEC Tournament with the Wildcats playing Wednesday, May 8 in the opening round of the event at 6:30 p.m. ET against No. 10 seed South Carolina at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Tickets to the event are available online at http://www.ukathletics.com/secsoftball/tickets.html.
The Wildcats earn the No. 7 seed with a 13-11 conference record, marking the third straight winning conference season for UK. Prior to Lawson taking over the program, UK had only posted a winning SEC record one time.
UK started its conference slate by taking two of three games from Ole Miss before dropping all three games at highly ranked LSU the following weekend. Lawson and Co. responded the following weekends with consecutive sweeps of Mississippi State and South Carolina, tying the longest SEC winning streak in school history. The Wildcats then took one of three from Florida, Arkansas and Missouri before winning the series against Alabama to conclude the season.
This appearance marks the fifth-consecutive in the SEC tournament for Kentucky and its seventh all-time. The Wildcats hold a 1-8 record all-time in the event. This is the first time the tournament has hosted 10 league teams.
This is the first time in school history that Kentucky has played host to the SEC Tournament. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will begin with two first-round games Wednesday, followed by four quarterfinals games on Thursday. Friday will feature two semifinal contests before the championship game on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU. A detailed schedule is below.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
2013 SEC Softball Tournament Schedule (All times Eastern)
Game 1 - Wednesday, May 8 – No. 8 Alabama vs. No. 9 Texas A&M – 4 p.m.
Game 2 - Wednesday, May 8 – No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 10 South Carolina – 6:30 p.m.
Game 3 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 1 Florida vs. Game 1 winner – 11 a.m.
Game 4 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 4 LSU vs. No. 5 Georgia – 1:30 a.m.
Game 5 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 2 Tennessee vs. Game 2 winner – 4 p.m.
Game 6 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 6 Arkansas – 6:30 p.m.
Game 7 - Friday, May 10 - Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner – 3 p.m.
Game 8 - Friday, May 10 - Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner – 5:30 p.m.
Game 9 - Saturday, May 11 - Championship Game – 8 p.m.
Information provided by Wes Crane (UK Athletics)
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