LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a 4-1 weekend, including wins over top-20 ranked Washington and San Diego State, which is receiving votes in one poll, the University of Kentucky softball team has moved up in both major collegiate softball polls to No. 20/21, it was announced Tuesday.
Kentucky (8-3) moved up three spots to 21st in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll and inched up two spots to 20th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25. Both rankings are the highest of the season for the Wildcats, who were receiving votes in both major polls to start the season.
Just two weekends into the season, Kentucky has already defeated three ranked teams and two other teams that were receiving votes. The Wildcats started the season with a 3-2 victory over then-No. 3 California, before defeating then-No. 16 Washington and then-No. 20 Stanford. UK also has wins over San Diego State, who is receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, and Oregon State, who is currently receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
UK’s losses have come to No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 3 Arizona State and unranked Portland State.
The Wildcats are still scheduled to face seven teams that are ranked or receiving votes in one of the polls, spanning 16 games. The Wildcats will play three-game sets with No. 1/2 Alabama, No. 5/5 Florida, No. 7/7 Missouri and No. 10/11 LSU. UK will have a home-and-home series against No. 18/18 Louisville and one-game sets with No. 14/17 USF and North Carolina, who is receiving votes.
The Southeastern Conference is represented well in the rankings with six teams in the top 10 and eight teams ranked overall in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25. In the USA Today/NFCA top 25, Alabama heads the rankings at No. 1, followed by Tennessee and Florida in the top five.
UK recently completed a 10-day, 11-game road trip, playing in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., and the 23rd Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, Calif. Most recently, UK went 4-1 in San Diego, taking down Cal Poly, San Diego State, Washington and UC Riverside. The Wildcats lone loss over the weekend was to No. 1 Oklahoma.
Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess paced the Wildcats at the plate over the weekend with a .500 (8-for-16) average, blasting two homers and a double for five RBI and an on-base percentage of .556. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner also swung a hot bat after making a move to the No. 2 spot in the order, hitting .455 (5-for-11) with two doubles and triple. Joiner is the lone Wildcat this season to record a double, triple and home run.
In the circle, freshman hurler Kelsey Nunley went 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA, throwing 19 innings with 13 strikeouts. In her two starts over the weekend, Nunley went 13 innings, allowing nine hits, one run – none earned – with 10 strikeouts. Cumbess posted a 1.40 ERA over the weekend with a 1-0 record.
Kentucky will begin play in its third weekend of the season Friday when it travels to Spartanburg, S.C., for the Coke Zero Spartan Classic. UK will square off against Presbyterian, Georgetown, USC Upstate and Howard at the event. A detailed preview for the tournament will be released later this week.
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