Nunley Leads Wildcats to Series Sweep of Mississippi State
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior
Kelsey Nunley did a little bit of everything to lead the 12th-ranked Kentucky
softball team to a 4-0 win over Mississippi State on Sunday to preserve a sweep
of the visiting Bulldogs. Nunley was responsible for the game-clinching RBI and
tossed a seven-inning shutout in the final regular-season game of the season.
With today’s victory, the Wildcats
have secured the No. 2 seed in this week’s upcoming Southeastern Conference
tournament. It is the best finish in program history. Kentucky will take on the
winner of (7) LSU and (10) Texas A&M on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET in
Starkville, Miss. The game will be shown live on the SEC Network with Adam Amin
and Amanda Scarbrough on the call.
Kentucky finishes the 2016 regular
season with a 43-11 overall record and a 17-7 mark in league play. Mississippi
State falls to 25-30 overall and 3-21 against SEC foes. Nunley’s victory today
improves her to 20-5 overall on the season. She is the first pitcher in program
history to accumulate three 20-win seasons in a career.
Nunley was once again sensational
in the circle for the Wildcats. She tossed her 12th complete game of the season
and earned her seventh shutout of the year. She yielded five hits, while
striking out eight.
Kentucky did all of its damage in
the fourth inning. Freshman Abbey Cheek got things started with a one-out walk
and was followed by back-to-back singles from Brooklyn Hinz and Jenny Schaper.
Senior Christian Stokes’ fielder’s choice plated Cheek for the winning run,
setting the stage for Nunley. UK’s remarkable senior laced a ball through the
right side that plated two scores to preserve the win. The Wildcats added an
insurance run thanks to an error by the Bulldogs for the final 4-0 score.
Kentucky’s shutout in today’s game
marks the 18th of the season, setting a new single-season program record. The
Wildcats’ pitching staff has allowed two or fewer runs in 38 of their 54 games
this season. Kentucky is 37-1 in games in which it has allowed two or fewer
Second – Today’s win secured second
place in the league standings for the Wildcats. UK was picked eighth by the SEC
coaches prior to the start of the season. Behind a school-record 17 conference
victories and six series wins the Wildcats ascended the standings into second
place which is the highest finish in program history.
Nunley’s two-RBI single is the play
of the day. With the Wildcats loading the bases and having just one out on the
scoreboard, UK’s senior pitcher delivered for the second time this series
offensively. She also had the game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the
seventh to force extra innings on Friday night.
Cheek is the player of the game
after going 1-for-1 at the dish and scoring what became the game-winning tally.
Her day also included a walk to ignite the rally in the bottom of the sixth.
Cheek also was a stalwart at third base with four assists on the afternoon to
help keep the Bulldogs’ offense at bay.
Kentucky utilized a big sixth
inning to preserve the victory. Cheek got things started with a walk. Hinz singled
through the left side and Schaper loaded the bases with a bloop infield single.
Stokes sent a sharp chopper to third base and MSU attempted to get Cheek at
home, but the throw was not in time. With the bases still juiced, Nunley
drilled a ball to second base that nicked the glove of the fielder to ricochet
into shallow right field to plate two scores. Kentucky scored its final run
after benefiting from a Mississippi State error. FINAL – No. 12 Kentucky 4,
Mississippi State 0.
For the latest on the Kentucky
softball team, follow @UKSoftball on
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.