No. 17 softball continues road swing, prepares for Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After an offensive showcase in its doubleheader sweep at Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday where it set a school record with five home runs in one game, the No. 17 University of Kentucky softball team continues its road trip out by traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., for a three-game Southeastern Conference series with the Arkansas Razorbacks beginning Friday night.

The series starts Friday at Bogle Park with a 7 p.m. ET first pitch, followed by a 1 p.m. ET start on Saturday and 2 p.m. ET start on Sunday. Live stats and live video from all three games will be available through the links provided below. Fans can also follow all the action by following @UKSoftball on Twitter.

Kentucky (33-12, 9-6 SEC) is coming off two midweek wins at MTSU to start the week, taking the doubleheader with a 7-4 victory in game one and 13-1 triumph in game two. The Wildcats scored five or more runs in three different innings in the doubleheader, including a six-run third inning in game two. In all, the Wildcats hit .413 as a team in the two games, blasting five doubles and five home runs en route to scoring 20 runs with 18 RBI. All five home runs came in game two, setting the school record for most home runs in a game. UK also had 33 total bases in game two, tying the school record, which was set in 2002.

Freshman infielder Ansley Smith led the team going 3-for-3 with a pair of two-run home runs, while fellow freshman Sylver Samuel was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three stolen bases. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner went 5-for-7 in the series with a double, home run and four RBI, while senior Alice O’Brien went 4-for-6 with a double and RBI. Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess hit a double and home run in the series to extend her hitting streak to a career-best 11 games, while the other home run came from junior infielder Krystal Smith, who had four RBI in the series.

In the circle, UK got strong pitching performances from Cumbess, junior Ellen Weaver and freshman Katie Henderson. Cumbess threw the final five innings in game one, allowing only one run with four strikeouts before MTSU rallied for a three-run seventh inning. Cumbess got the win in game one, moving to 9-5 on the year. Weaver started the first game of the doubleheader, throwing two scoreless innings with three hits allowed. Henderson won game two, throwing a complete game, allowing one run on five hits with two strikeouts.

Kentucky moved up to No. 17 in both the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 on Tuesday. Last week, the Wildcats were 18th in the USA Today/NFCA poll and 19th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Kentucky currently sits seventh in the NCAA.com RPI listings, which is its highest mark in school history. UK has posted seven wins against teams currently ranked or receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, while it has 11 wins against teams ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll.

Lawson and Co. have played one of the toughest schedules in the country, having played 33 games against top 100 teams in the NCAA RPI rankings. The Wildcats have played 21 games against teams currently ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and 17 games against teams in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. All 10 of UK’s games left this season are with teams in those rankings, including one against No. 8/8 Louisville, and three-game sets against No. 11/12 Missouri, No. 4/6 Alabama and Arkansas, who is receiving votes in both.

Arkansas enters the weekend series having won two straight games after it won its three-game series last weekend at top-10 ranked Missouri. The Razorbacks are 28-16 this season with a 6-9 record in conference play and a 14-5 mark at home. Arkansas is currently receiving votes in both national polls behind its series win last weekend, a sweep of Georgia and a win over highly ranked LSU.

Sophomore utility player Devon Wallace leads the team in hitting this season with a .402 (41-for-102) average with nine doubles, 12 home runs and 27 RBI. Wallace has a .631 on-base percentage this season while she is slugging .843. Freshman outfielder Stephanie Canfield is second on the team in hitting at .396 (44-for-111) with six doubles, two triples and one home run, while junior infielder Clarisa Navarro is hitting .328 (45-for-137) with nine doubles and four home runs. Junior infielder Chloe Oprzedek leads the team in RBI with 34 along with a .322 (39-for-121) average.

Senior pitcher Chelsea Cohen paces the team in wins this season in the circle with a 13-8 record, throwing a team-high 117 innings with 123 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA. Freshman Kelly Young is first in ERA at 2.12 with a 5-0 record in 33 innings pitched, while senior Hope McLemore has a 4-2 record with a 2.30 ERA. Sophomore Kimmy Beasley is 6-6 with a 2.85 ERA striking out 113 in 81 innings pitched.

The Razorbacks lead the all-time series against Kentucky 27-16, including a 14-7 record in games played in Fayetteville. Sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson is 6-7 against the Razorbacks at UK, including a 3-2 mark in Fayetteville as UK’s head coach. The Razorbacks lead the series 12-9 in games played in Lexington. The Wildcats have won five of the last seven games played between the two teams. UK took two of three games from Arkansas in 2010 before winning both games of a doubleheader in 2011. Last season, the two teams split a doubleheader in Lexington.


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