LEXINGTON, Ky. (3/10/14) — No. 8/10 Kentucky claimed its opening Southeastern Conference series with a 5-0 victory at Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon.
University of Kentucky sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley tossed her second consecutive shutout in the circle, while senior infielder Krystal Smith launched a three-run homer and sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann recorded a home run and two RBI.
The win for Kentucky (18-3, 2-1 SEC) continues the Wildcats best start to a season in school history. Through 21 games, UK’s 18 wins is the most in program history. The Wildcats have now won their opening SEC series three of the last four years. UK won its opening conference series against Tennessee in 2011 before taking down Ole Miss last season.
Nunley was the story again in the circle, tossing seven scoreless innings to claim the win and move to 7-1 on the year. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., threw her second career no-hitter Friday night against the Bulldogs before allowing only three hits Sunday. For the series, Nunley went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, striking out nine in 14 innings pitched. The sophomore allowed only three combined hits in the series with opponents hitting just .068 against her.
Offensively, six Wildcats recorded hits with Sagermann recording a multiple-hit game with an RBI single and a solo home run, her second of the season. Krystal Smith made the most of her lone at-bat in the game, launching a three-run, pinch-hit homer in the fourth inning, her first roundtripper of the season. Sophomore second baseman Ansley Smith was 1-for-2 in the game with a single and getting hit by a pitch twice, while senior outfielder Emily Gaines was 1-for-4. Junior catcher Griffin Joiner and sophomore shortstop Christian Stokes was 1-for-3.
Mississippi State threw Alison Owen in the circle with the senior going six innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits with 10 strikeouts. Freshman Alexis Silkwood came off the bench to pitch a scoreless seventh inning with a walk and a strikeout.
Offensively, three different players recorded a hit for the Bulldogs with second baseman Heidi Shape, third baseman Carolina Seitz and first baseman Logan Foulks each going 1-for-3. Shape and Seitz hit singles, while Foulks doubled.
The scoring started in the fourth inning with Kentucky blowing the game open with four runs. Ansley Smith started the inning getting hit by a pitch, moving to second when Cumbess bunted back to the pitcher, who threw too late to second base to put runners on first and second with no outs. Gaines kept the rally going with a single to left field to load the bases for Sagermann, who grounded a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Ansley Smith before Sarah Frazer was thrown out at the plate trying to score. After a strikeout for the second out, Krystal Smith delivered the three-run homer that went just fair down the leftfield line.
The Wildcats added their fifth and final run in the sixth inning on a leadoff homer by Sagermann, sealing UK’s 5-0 win.
The three game series was the beginning of an eight game road swing for Kentucky, who will return from Starkville and travel to Marshall on Tuesday for a midweek non-conference game before a three-game set at highly ranked Missouri next weekend. The Wildcats will return from Missouri to start a 15-game home stand, beginning a stretch of 21 of its next 25 games at John Cropp Stadium.
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Information provided by UK Athletics
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