BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 13 LSU softball team rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, getting a two-out, two-run single from outfielder A.J. Andrews to erase a 2-0 defeat and clinch a 3-2 victory, sealing the three-game sweep over No. 17 Kentucky on Sunday at Tiger Park.
True freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley picked up the loss in the game after throwing all six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Nunley is now 12-3 on the year after earning the loss in the series opener Friday night.
Offensively, UK was led by true freshman Maisie Steed, who went 1-for-2 with a two-RBI single in the second inning. Fellow freshman Ansley Smith collected the other hit for the Wildcats, going 1-for-2 with a run scored.
LSU pitcher Ashley Czechner improved her record to 6-0 on the year, going seven innings, allowing two earned runs on two hits with two strikeouts. Andrews was the main offensive leader for LSU, posting a 2-for-4 day with two RBI. Jacee Blades went 2-for-3, while Rikki Alcaraz had a hit and an RBI.
The Wildcats will return to action with a pair of midweek home games against Western Kentucky and Iowa. UK and WKU will square off Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET before the Wildcats face Iowa on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET. The UK-Iowa game is the first of four televised games this season on the UK/IMG Sports Network. The game can be seen live throughout the Fox Sports South footprint.
Kentucky (19-7, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) scored first in the game for the first time in the series getting two runs on one hit in the top of the second inning. The rally started with Ansley Smith drawing a walk on a 12-pitch at-bat before Krystal Smith laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that the LSU third baseman fielded and threw late to second allowing both runners to reach safely. After a strikeout, pinch hitter Emily Gaines grounded out, advancing the runners to second and third for Steed, who hit an infield single to the second baseman, scoring both runners. Steed got thrown out at second trying to grab an extra base to end the inning.
Nunley got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the third inning. After a single, walk and hit-by pitch, LSU loaded the bases for cleanup hitter Bianka Bell, who grounded a ball sharply to third baseman Krystal Smith. Smith threw home to sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner for the first out and on to first to complete the double play. Nunley then got Alcaraz to groundout softly to second to end the threat.
The Tigers took the lead for good in the sixth inning. Bell started the rally with a double to right-centerfield, coming home to score when Alcaraz singled through the right side of the infield. After a walk and a strikeout, LSU brought up pinch hitter Kellsi Kloss, who flied out to leftfield for the second out. Nunley then hit Simone Heyward with a pinch, loading the bases for Andrews, who hit a bloop single to rightfield to score the winning runs.
Kentucky will play host to the SEC Tournament this season for the first time in school history. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will be May 8-11 in Lexington. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU. Ticket information for the tournament can be found here.