SAN DIEGO – The No. 22/24 University of Kentucky softball team will continue its 10-day, 11-game trip to the western part of the United States when it begins play in the 23rd Campbell/Cartier Classic on Thursday on the campus of San Diego State University. All games during the three-day event will take place at the SDSU Softball Stadium. Live stats from every game will be available on UKathletics.com
Kentucky (4-2) will face two ranked teams during the event, while host San Diego State (3-2) is receiving votes in one of the two major polls. UK’s tournament begins Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET against Cal Poly (1-4) before it takes on the Aztecs of SDSU at 9 p.m. ET. The Wildcats will only play one game on Friday, squaring off against No. 16/18 Washington (4-2) at 2:15 p.m. ET. UK’s play out west will conclude Saturday with a doubleheader, starting with UC-Riverside (2-3) at Noon ET and ending with No. 1/2 Oklahoma (5-0) at 4:30 p.m. ET.
The Wildcats are coming off a successful weekend of play in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. UK started the season with a bang, taking down then-No. 3 California 3-2 in nine innings before also defeating No. 20 Stanford 3-1. The wins over Cal and Stanford were the 32nd and 33rd for UK over a ranked foe under sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson.
The two victories propelled the Wildcats into the top 25 of both major collegiate softball polls, sitting 24th in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll and 22nd in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. UK also defeated Oregon State, who was receiving votes in both preseason polls, and Western Michigan. The Wildcats’ two losses came to No. 3 Arizona State and Portland State.
UK got strong performances all over the field in its opening weekend. Pitcher Kelsey Nunley was impressive in her first collegiate action, collecting a 3-0 record with a 2.83 ERA and a team-high 19 strikeouts. The rookie was fantastic in her two starts, defeating Western Michigan and No. 20 Stanford. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., had nine strikeouts against the Broncos and eight against the Cardinal, leading UK to wins in both.
Junior pitchers Lauren Cumbess and Ellen Weaver also had solid starts. Cumbess, who was named a Primetime Performer of the Week by CollegeSoftball360.com, had a do-it-all effort in UK’s win over highly ranked Cal, throwing all nine innings, allowing six hits and two runs, while striking out six. At the plate, Cumbess went 2-for-4 in the win with the game-winning RBI against two-time defending Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Jolene Henderson.
Weaver went 0-1 with a 3.62 ERA, throwing 9.2 innings with nine strikeouts. Weaver’s best performance came against Oregon State, throwing 4.2 innings only allowing one earned run with six strikeouts.
At the plate, UK was led by freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann, who paced the Wildcats in batting average with a .429 mark, including a double and two RBI. Seniors Kara Dill and Alice O'Brien along with juniors Ginny Carroll and Lauren Cumbess are also off to strong offensive starts. Dill is hitting .368 with seven hits, one double, five runs scored and an RBI, while O'Brien is hitting .400 with seven runs scored, two doubles and three RBI. Carroll leads the team in RBI with six while holding a .417 average, while Cumbess is hitting .368 with seven hits, one double and five RBI.
Cal Poly enters the tournament with a 1-4 record behind head coach Jenny Condon, who is in her ninth season. The Mustangs went 13-36 last season, 5-16 in the Big West. Breana West leads the team in hitting so far this season with a .400 average, including a double and two RBI, while Jordan Yates paces the team with a 5.57 ERA behind a 1-3 record. The Mustangs’ win came in the season opener against New Mexico before falling to Western Michigan, No. 13 Arizona, No. 20 Stanford and San Jose State.
The Aztecs are off to a 3-2 start behind strong pitching and several hot bats. Kamerin May leads the team with a .471 average with two doubles and a triple, while Patrice Jackson has a homer and a .467 average. Lorena Bauer has been the power bat for SDSU, launching four homers so far this season with nine RBI. In the circle, Rebecca Arbino has a team-low 1.24 ERA with a 3-1 record and 20 strikeouts, while Danielle O’Toole has a 1.62 ERA with 12 strikeouts. SDSU has wins over Creighton, Northwestern and Western Michigan, while its two losses have come against Stephen F. Austin and No. 13 Arizona.
Washington, who started the season ranked and currently sits 16th in one poll and 18th in another, is 4-2 overall with a win over No. 25 Hawaii. Hooch Fagaly is hitting .588 for the Huskies with a double, two homers and six RBI, while Kelli Suguro posted a .455 average with three doubles and four RBI. Bryana Walker leads the team in ERA with a 2.41 mark and a 2-1 record, while Kasey Stanchek is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA and Kaitlin Inglesby is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA. Washington has wins this season over Ole Miss, UAB and SMC, while it has lost to UAB and Hawaii.
UC-Riverside is 2-3 on the year with wins over Southern Miss and Sacramento State. The Highlanders have fallen to Fresno State and UTEP. Marissa Escalante paces the team with a .500 average, posting a double and two RBI, while Kayla White has the team’s lone homer. Alyssa Razo holds a team-low 1.56 ERA behind a 2-0 record and eight strikeouts, while Ashley Ercoiana is 0-2 with a 2.33 ERA.
Oklahoma, who advanced to the Women’s College World Series a season ago, is off to a fast start, posting a 5-0 record and moving up to No. 1 in the nation in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25. The Sooners are led by Lauren Chamberlain, who is hitting .636 with four homers and 12 RBI, while three other players have two or more homers, including three roundtrippers by Shelby Pendley. Keilani Ricketts paces the team in the circle with a 2-0 record and a 2.00 ERA, winning National Player of the Week honors by multiple organizations this week after throwing two no-hitters. OU has defeated Oregon, Oregon State, Northwestern, Stanford and New Mexico.
After completion of the tournament, Kentucky will return to Lexington for a short stint before traveling to Spartanburg, S.C. to play in the Coke Zero Spartan Classic. The tournament is hosted by USC-Upstate.
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 will be released soon on UKathletics.com.
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