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Streaking Kentucky opens three-game Southeastern Conference set with Bama


It was a good week for UK softball and Kelsey Nunley. The Cats took two of three from Louisville and Nunley tied the school's career wins record (UK Athletics Photo / Britney Howard)

It was a good week for UK softball and Kelsey Nunley. The Cats took two of three from Louisville and Nunley tied the school’s career wins record (UK Athletics Photo / Britney Howard)

 

After two wins last weekend over the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and a 4-0 victory Wednesday over in-state rival Louisville, who is receiving votes in the national rankings, the No. 13 University of Kentucky softball team faces yet another quality test this weekend when it plays host to No. 5 Alabama for a three-game Southeastern Conference series at John Cropp Stadium.
 

Due to the central Kentucky area getting over five inches of rain in the last 24 hours, the game scheduled for Friday has been postponed. The two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday at noon with the second game starting 40 minutes after the completion of game one.
 

Saturday’s first game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Mark Neely and Olympic Gold Medalist Michele Smith calling the action. Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. series finale will be televised on the SEC Network with Neely and Smith also on the call. Saturday’s second game will not be televised.
 

Friday’s tickets will be valid for both games Saturday. The first 100 fans into John Cropp Stadium Saturday will receive a set of softball trading cards, while autographs and photos with the team will be done after the completion of day’s second game.
 

Live stats from all three games will be available online at UKathletics.com.
 

Single-game tickets are available and are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (ages 65 or older) and youth (ages 6-18), while children ages five and under will be admitted free of charge. Tickets are available by calling the UK Ticket Office at 1-800-928-2287, in person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or online at www.ukathletics.com/tickets. Tickets will be sold – cash only – on game days at the ticket booths outside the stadium with gates opening one hour prior to first pitch.
 

New for 2015 is the Family Fun Packs, which are available for Saturday and Sunday SEC games. Fans can purchase four tickets (two adult, two youth) and four food vouchers (each valid for a hotdog and small soda) for only $30. Family Fun Packs must be purchased in advance by calling the ticket office at 1-800-928-2287.
 

The Wildcats had a busy day Wednesday, defeating in-state rival Louisville 4-0, while junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley tied the program record for career wins and senior catcher Griffin Joiner became the third player in school history to go in the National Pro Fastpitch College Draft when she was selected 19th overall to the Akron Racers.
 

Kentucky’s win over the Cardinals was its fourth straight, which is the longest winning streak in the series for the Wildcats. Nunley was the star, throwing a complete-game shutout with only five hits allowed and six strikeouts to move to 68-27 for her career and tie UK great Chanda Bell for most career wins.
 

The performance is even more impressive considering UofL entered the game ranked eighth in the nation in batting average and 24th nationally in scoring. The shutout was only the third time this season the Cardinals have been kept off the scoreboard.
 

Offensively, junior Christian Stokes went 2-for-3 to extend her hitting streak to a career-best eight games, while sophomore outfielder Breanne Ray belted her fifth home run of the season in the sixth inning to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.
 

Stokes leads Kentucky offensively this season with a .378 average, adding six doubles, one triple, six homers and 20 RBI, while Joiner is second on the team with a .333 average, adding five doubles, six homers and 30 RBI. Juniors Maisie Steed, Sylver Samuel and Nikki Sagermann rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively in average. Steed is hitting .329 this season with five homers and 16 RBI, while Samuel is hitting .310 with a team-best 15 stolen bases and Sagermann has five homers and 17 RBI.
 

Nunley has been UK’s leader in the circle, sitting 11-5 with a 1.65 ERA in 102 innings pitched. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., has 90 strikeouts this season with opponents hitting just .209 against her. Freshman Erin Rethlake is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched with 27 strikeouts and opponents hitting just .235 against her, while sophomore Meagan Prince is 9-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 66.0 innings pitched with 59 strikeouts. Sophomore Shannon Smith is 1-0 this season with a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched with 24 strikeouts.
 

Alabama enters the weekend with a 27-8 record, including an 8-6 mark in SEC play. The Tide is 14-6 at home, 5-2 in true road games and 8-0 in neutral-site games this season. Alabama is 8-7 this season against ranked foes and has won seven of its last 10 games.
 

The trip to Lexington breaks a 10-game road stretch for Alabama that included SEC series against No. 2 Florida and No. 23 Texas A&M. The Tide went 1-2 against the Gators, while taking two of three against the Aggies last weekend. Bama had two midweek home non-conference games earlier this week, defeating Mississippi Valley State and Southern Miss.
 

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Alabama leads the all-time series with Kentucky 41-4 with three of the Wildcats’ four all-time wins coming under head coach Rachel Lawson’s tenure. The two teams met last season in the WCWS with Alabama earning a 2-0 victory. The last three-game series against the two schools was in 2013 when the Wildcats claim two out of three games down in Tuscaloosa. The series win for Kentucky was its first ever against the Crimson Tide, including it’s first-ever win against the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
 

Promotions
 
Friday – First 100 fans receive set of 2015 UK Softball trading cards; A pregame block party will be held for students and begin one hour before the game, featuring free food, giveaways, music, door prizes and more. A shuttle bus will run for students at the Wildcat Alumni Plaza (across from Memorial Coliseum) and The 90 at South Campus before and after the game.
 

Saturday – Junior Wildcat Club Weekend — JWC members receive free admission plus one when they present their ID. First 50 JWC members receive free charm; Family Fun Day at the park, featuring pregame and postgame youth activities, including face painting, hair bow making, inflatables, autographs and pictures with the team; Bounce house for the kids and corn hole boards for all available.
 

Sunday – Junior Wildcat Club Weekend — JWC members receive free admission plus one when they present their ID; First 100 fans receive set of 2015 UK Softball trading cards; Family Fun Day at the park, featuring pregame and postgame youth activities, including face painting, hair bow making, inflatables, autographs and pictures with the team; Kids run the bases day — weather permitting — all kids eighth grade and younger can run the bases; Scratch’s Easter Egg hunt postgame — All kids eighth grade and younger are invited to bring an Easter basket to the stadium to decorate on Sunday. After the game, kids will be invited to participate in Scratch’s egg hunt.
 

From UK Athletics


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