LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann went 2-for-3 in the game, including an RBI game-winning single in the eighth inning, while freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley went eight strong innings in the circle, becoming the second rookie in school history to win a NCAA opener, as No. 12 Kentucky earned an extra-inning, NCAA opening round win, 2-1 over Marshall on Friday night at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky (39-18) will continue its NCAA run Saturday at 1 p.m. ET against Virginia Tech, which defeated Notre Dame 4-3 in the opening game of the 2013 NCAA Lexington Regional on Friday. Notre Dame and Marshall will face off in game four of the regional at 3:30 p.m. ET. The winning team between Kentucky and Virginia Tech will move on to the regional championship on Sunday, while the loser will face the winner of the Notre Dame-Marshall game for a spot in the regional final.
The win for Kentucky over Marshall was its seventh in extra innings this season, tying the school record for most extra-inning wins in a single season. This is the third time in the last four seasons that Kentucky has won its NCAA opener. UK won its first game in the NCAA Tournament over Ohio State in 2010 before dropping both games Saturday, while in 2011, UK won its first game over Notre Dame and posted two more wins the next two days to punch its ticket to a Super Regional.
Sagermann was fantastic for Kentucky in all facets of the game, finishing 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI, while also making some great defensive plays in the field with six assists – which tied a career high. The native of Buford, Ga., delivered in a huge way for Kentucky in the eighth inning, lacing a single up the middle with the bases loaded to score the game-winning run and keep Kentucky in the winner’s side of the bracket. Sagermann has provided UK with much-needed runs over the last month, hitting a game-winning home run against Arkansas and Alabama in UK’s Southeastern Conference stretch run.
Senior designated player Kara Dill and sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner also had multi-hit games with Dill going 2-for-4 with an RBI and Joiner 3-for-4, including a double to centerfield in the eighth inning to start the game-winning rally. Junior infielder Krystal Smith went 1-for-3 in the game, while pinch-hitter Ginny Carroll was 1-for-1 and speedy outfielder Sylver Samuel 1-for-2 with a run scored.
Nunley was fantastic in the circle for Kentucky, throwing all eight innings, allowing one earned run on six hits with five strikeouts. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., is now 25-8 on the year to increase her school-record win total. Nunley’s 2.06 ERA this season ranks third highest for a single season in school history, while her 238.1 innings pitched is second highest and her 180 strikeouts is fifth highest.
Marshall (35-21) also got a strong pitching performance in the circle as senior Andi Williamson went seven innings, allowing two earned runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts. Offensively, Marshall was led by multi-hit nights from Kaelynn Greeen, who was 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Shaelynn Braxton, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Ashley Gue went 1-for-3 in the game, while Savanah was 1-for-2.
Marshall started the scoring in the fourth inning when Greene laid down a bunt single – the first hit of the game for the Thundering Herd – advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a popped up bunt attempt, Braxton singled up the middle to score Greene and give the Herd a 1-0 lead.
UK answered in the fifth inning when Samuel started a rally with a bunt single, stealing second base and eventually scoring on an RBI single through the right side of the infield by Dill.
The score held at 1-1 until the eighth inning when Sagermann delivered her bases-loaded single to give Kentucky a 2-1 victory.