Softball

Kentucky Extends Season in Late-Inning Rally, Into Regional Final

Box Score (PDF)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ninth-seeded
Kentucky used two-out rallies in the top of the seventh and eighth innings to
power past the Illinois Fighting Illini and extend its season in its third game
of the day on Elimination Saturday of the NCAA Softball Championships.

Kentucky, having already suffered a
loss earlier in the day to Utah in the winner’s bracket game, found itself
trailing 2-1 going into the top of the seventh inning and its season three outs
from closing. Senior Christian Stokes led off the inning with a single to the
left side, and with two outs, was brought home on an RBI single into center by
freshman Katie Reed to tie the game.

After senior pitcher Kelsey Nunley
closed the door on Illinois in the bottom of the seventh, Abbey Cheek led off
the top of the eighth inning with a single up the middle and into center. UK
then put two aboard with no outs as Cheek was ruled safe at second on an
attempted bunt by freshman Jenny Schaper and the Wildcats had a rally going. After
a hard-luck lineout double play by Brooklin Hinz right back to the pitcher
recorded Illinois’ first two outs of the inning, Stokes stepped up and launched
an RBI double off the wall in right field to score the game-winning run.

Nunley then allowed a lead-off
single, but nothing more in the bottom of the eighth, and Kentucky booked its
improbable spot in the NCAA’s Lexington Regional on Sunday afternoon at John
Cropp Stadium.

Kentucky will face Utah on Sunday
in the regional final, needing to beat the Utes two times to advance into the
Super Regional round since Utah is 2-0 and Kentucky is 2-1 in the
double-elimination tournament.

Both games (if necessary) will be
shown live on ESPN3 with Dave Baker and Ginny Carroll on the call as well as
the WatchESPN app and ESPN3. Select parts of the game will air on ESPN’s ‘Bases
Loaded’ coverage throughout the day on multiple ESPN platforms.

Key Stat

Five. The number of hits that Kentucky’s
senior class had in the game on Saturday night under the lights at John Cropp
Stadium. Stokes led all players with three hits in the game, going 3-for-3,
with Sylver Samuel and Nikki Sagermann each notching one base hit in the game.

Key Play

Katie Reed’s two-out RBI single
into shallow center was the key play in the game, extending Kentucky’s season
into extra innings and allowing the Wildcats to win it in the eighth.

Key Player

Kelsey Nunley was the key player in
the game, throwing 7.1 innings of scoreless softball only allowing three hits
to the 26 batters she faced, walking one and striking out nine. Nunley came on
in the bottom of the first inning and threw the rest of the game on 102
pitches, with 74 of them recorded as strikes.

Run Recap

Illinois scored two in the first inning
off of junior pitcher Meagan Prince. The Illini got a lead-off double from
Allie Bauch, who came around to score on an RBI single from right fielder
Nicole Evans. With the bases loaded, Emily Brodner walked to score the only
other Illini run of the game. ILL 2, UK
0

Kentucky would score its first run
of the game on a two-out RBI in the top of the fourth inning on a single by
Christian Stokes to score Schaper, who led off the inning with a single. ILL 2, UK 1

In the seventh, down 2-1, Stokes led
off the inning with a single to the left side. Reed then singled into center to
score Stokes and tie the game in the top of the seventh at two. UK 2, ILL 2

In the top of the eighth, Kentucky
would score the game-winning run after Abbey Cheek led off the inning with a
single up the middle to put the lead-off batter aboard. After UK put Schaper on
board after a failed fielder’s choice, Hinz lined into a double play to put two
outs on the board with Cheek at second. Stokes then rifled a ball to right to
score Cheek and give Kentucky the game-winner. FINAL – (9) Kentucky 3, Illinois 2

2016 Lexington Regional | Tourney Central

John Cropp Stadium (1,500)

Lexington, Ky.

Friday, May 20

Game 1: Utah def. Illinois, 1-0

Saturday, May 21

Game 2: Kentucky def. Butler, 6-1

Game 3: Utah def. Kentucky, 3-0

Game 4: Illinois def. Butler, 2-1 (8) [Butler eliminated]

Game 5: Kentucky def. Illinois, 3-2 (8) [Illinois eliminated]

Sunday, May 22

Game 6: Utah vs. (9) Kentucky – 1pm ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]

Game 7 (if necessary) – Same teams – 3:30 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app,
ESPNU Bases Loaded
] *

*Winner to Super Regional round May 26-29 on select campus sites

For the latest on the Kentucky
softball team, follow @UKSoftball on
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com

Related Stories

View all