FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 17 University of Kentucky softball got a two-run home run from junior Lauren Cumbess, who also earned the win in the circle, and a three-run opposite field blast from freshman Nikki Sagermann en route to a 5-3 victory over Arkansas on Sunday at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark. Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw three effective innings to end the game and pick up her second save of the season.
Cumbess had a great game for Kentucky (34-14, 10-8 Southeastern Conference) throwing four strong innings to start the game, allowing two runs on two hits with one strikeout. The two-way player made an impact in the game before ever stepping in the circle, launching her team-leading 11th home run of the season in the top of the first inning. Cumbess finished the game 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
The native of Normal, Ill., has hit safely in 13 of her last 14 games and has an extra-base hit in nine of those 14 games. For the season, Cumbess leads the team with a .359 (56-for-156) average, including 12 doubles, 11 homers and 37 RBI. In the circle, Cumbess is 10-5 with a 3.52 ERA, striking out 77 in 99.1 innings pitched.
Sagermann was responsible for the other three UK runs when she hit a no-doubt laser over the wall in rightfield to give UK a 5-0 lead. The freshman finished the game 1-for-2 with a run scored and three RBI, increasing her batting average to .323 (32-for-99) with two doubles and five home runs.
The Wildcats posted nine hits total in the game with junior infielder Krystal Smith going 2-for-3, while senior outfielder Alice O’Brien, sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner and freshmen Christian Stokes and Sylver Samuel each had singles in the game.
Nunley was impressive in her first relief outing of the weekend, throwing three innings, allowing only one run on one hit with three strikeouts. Nunley, who earned her second career save, is now 20-6 on the season with a 2.08 ERA, striking out 143 in 185 innings pitched.
Arkansas (30-17, 8-10 SEC) started Kimmy Beasley in the circle, throwing three innings allowing five runs – all earned – on four hits with three strikeouts. Senior Chelsea Cohen finished the game, throwing four innings allowing no runs on five hits with six strikeouts. Beasley picked up the loss, moving to 7-7 on the season with a 3.00 ERA.
The Wildcats will return to action Wednesday against top-10 ranked Louisville at 6 p.m. ET to start a four-game homestand. The game against Louisville is staff appreciation night while the first 100 fans in John Cropp Stadium on Wednesday will receive a free pack of 2013 softball trading cards. The team will also sign autographs after the game. UK will conclude the homestand with a three-game series with highly ranked Missouri starting Friday.
The UK/IMG Sports Network will televise Wednesday’s game with Louisville while it will also televise UK’s conference showdowns with highly ranked Missouri on Friday, April 26 at 5 p.m. ET (originally scheduled for 6 p.m.) and Sunday, April 28 at 1 p.m. ET. The UK-U of L game and Sunday’s Missouri game will be shown live throughout the entire Fox Sports South footprint, while Friday’s Missouri game will be shown live in the state of Kentucky and parts of North Carolina with the full Fox Sports South footprint getting the game on a delayed basis.
Kentucky jumped on the Razorbacks early Sunday, getting two runs in the first inning. After a strikeout to start the game, Beasley walked Joiner to put a runner on for Cumbess, who hammered her team-leading 11th home run of the season to leftfield to put Kentucky up 2-0. Beasley got a groundout and strikeout to end the rally.
The Wildcats increased their lead to 5-0 with a rally in the fourth inning that would chase Beasley from the circle. The inning started with an infield single by Cumbess, who was pinch ran for by senior Kara Dill, who moved to second on the bunt single by O’Brien. After Dill stole third, Sagermann hammered a line drive home run over the wall in right-centerfield to give UK a 5-0 lead. Arkansas made a pitching change after the homer, turning to Cohen, who got out of the inning.
The Razorbacks answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. The rally started with a leadoff walk to Chole Oprzedek, who moved to second on a groundout. After an infield single by Sierra Bronkey, Cumbess walked Jennifer Rambo to load the bases and then walked Nicole Schroeder to score UA’s first run. Jayme Gee followed with a sacrifice fly to rightfield to make it 5-2 UK. Cumbess got a groundout to end the rally.
Arkansas added a run in the bottom of the fifth. Nunley started the inning in the circle hitting the first batter she saw to start the rally. A one-out walk then put runners on first and second before Nunley got a strikeout for the second out. An error then loaded the bases before Nunley issued a walk, cutting the UK lead to 5-3 before getting a lineout to end the inning.