LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fresh off its thrilling 2-1 victory over in-state rival No. 7 Louisville on Wednesday, the No. 19 University of Kentucky softball team looks to keep its momentum going as it continues a four-game homestand with Southeastern Conference foe No. 11 Missouri starting Friday at 5 p.m. ET at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
The three-game series will kickoff Friday with a 5 p.m. ET first pitch before 1 p.m. ET starts on Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Sunday’s games against Missouri will also be televised on the UK/IMG Sports Network with Friday’s game being shown live throughout the state of Kentucky (The CW channel 5 in Lexington). Sunday’s game will be shown live to the entire FSS footprint.
Admission to all three games is free of charge. Live stats from all three games will be available online at UKathletics.com, while live video (subscription required) will be available for Saturday’s game only.
There are numerous promotions for fans this weekend at John Cropp Stadium, including a chance to win a free Nike+ Fuel Band on Friday and Sunday. The first 100 fans on Saturday and Sunday will receive a free package of 2013 softball trading cards, while the entire team will sign autographs after both games. Sunday will be Senior Day as the UK softball program honors seniors Kara Dill and Alice O’Brien for four great years with Kentucky. Saturday and Sunday will be Little League Day at the park as little league players are invited to wear their uniforms to the games.
Kentucky (35-14, 10-8 SEC) is coming off one of its biggest wins of the season when it took down top-10 ranked Louisville on Wednesday. The win came on a thrilling seventh-inning rally that was capped off by the game-winning single by junior Lauren Cumbess. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Cumbess hit a grounder to the hole on the left side that scored freshman Sylver Samuel to seal the 2-1 win.
Cumbess led Kentucky offensively with a 2-for-4 night and has now hit safely in 14 of her last 15 games. Senior Alice O'Brien and junior Ginny Carroll also had multi-hit games with O'Brien going 2-for-3 with a double, while Carroll was 2-for-2 with two singles. Freshman Christian Stokes and Samuel each had singles. Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley was terrific in the circle for Kentucky, throwing a complete game, allowing one earned run on seven hits with three strikeouts.
The win for Kentucky marked its sixth over a ranked foe this season and its third over a top-10 team this season. In the six-year tenure of head coach Rachel Lawson, the Wildcats have now defeated 37 top-25 teams and 22 top-15 teams. UK started the year with a win over No. 3 California while it also defeated No. 3 Florida, No. 16 Washington, No. 20 Stanford and No. 25 North Carolina.
Cumbess leads Kentucky in hitting with a .363 (58-for-160) average, including a team-high tying 12 doubles and team-leading 11 home runs and 38 RBI. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner, who hit in the leadoff spot Wednesday for the first time in her career, is third on the team in hitting at .331 (46-for-139) with 12 doubles, nine homers and 37 RBI, while freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann is hitting .314 (32-for-102) with two doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI. Samuel and O’Brien are also hitting over .300 this season with Samuel leading the team with 16 stolen bases and O’Brien adding power with nine doubles, five homers and 28 RBI.
After the win Wednesday, Nunley is now 21-6 on the year in the circle with a 2.04 ERA, throwing 192.0 innings pitched with 146 strikeouts - which is seventh most in school history in a single season. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., has 16 complete games on the year with two saves. Cumbess is second on the team in pitching with a 10-5 record and 3.52 ERA, striking out 77 in 99.1 innings pitched. Junior Ellen Weaver has thrown 28 innings with a 3.50 ERA, while freshman Katie Henderson is 3-1 with a 1.11 ERA in 19 innings pitched.
Missouri (27-8, 11-6 SEC) is coming off a split doubleheader with Western Kentucky University on Wednesday, dropping the first game 1-0 before winning game two 7-1. Before the midweek action, the Tigers won a key SEC series on the road at highly ranked LSU, taking two of three games from the Tigers. Missouri currently sits fifth in the SEC standings already clinching a berth in the 2013 SEC Softball Tournament.
The Tigers are led offensively by freshman utility player Emily Crane, who is hitting .381 (40-for-105) with 11 doubles, two home runs, 20 RBI and a team-high 10 stolen bases. Senior pitcher/infielder Nicole Hudson has provided the power for Missouri this season, hitting .355 (33-for-93) with four doubles, 12 homers and 31 RBI. Sophomore infielder Corrin Genovese is hitting .349 (29-for-83) with five doubles and two homers, while sophomore infielder Kelsea Roth is hitting .333 (30-for-101) with 12 homers and 35 RBI.
Senior pitcher Chelsea Thomas paces the team in the circle with a 17-4 record and a 1.41 ERA. The former All-American has thrown 134 innings this season with a 169 strikeouts, while opponents are hitting just .163 against her. Hudson is second on the team in pitching with a 7-3 record and 3.19 ERA in 52.2 innings, while senior Lindsey Muller is 0-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 14 innings.
Missouri leads the all-time series played between the two schools 3-2. This is the first ever meeting between the two teams in SEC action. Kentucky, which started its program in 1997, played its second and third games in school history against the Tigers in Oxford, Miss., with Missouri winning both games. The two teams met again in 1999 in Chattanooga, Tenn., with the Tigers claiming a victory. UK and MU last met in 2003 at a tournament in Palo Alto, Calif., with UK winning both meetings. This weekend’s games mark the first non-neutral site game in the series.
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 is available at www.UKathletics.com/secsoftball.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Kentucky 35-14, 10-8 SEC
Missouri 27-8, 11-6 SEC
Kentucky – No. 19 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 19 in USA Today/NFCA Top 25
Missouri – No. 11 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 11 in USA Today/NFCA Top 25
Friday, April 26
Live Stats | TV: UK/IMG Sports Network/Fox Sports South*
Saturday, April 27
Live Stats | Live Video (Subscription Required)
Sunday, April 28
Live Stats | TV: UK/IMG Sports Network/Fox Sports South
* Live telecast throughout state of Kentucky.