LEXINGTON, Ky. – Junior infielder Lauren Cumbess recorded her 21st multi-hit game of the season, including a walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning, while freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw her 16th complete game of the year, allowing just one run with three strikeouts, en route to the No. 19 University of Kentucky softball team defeating in-state foe No. 7 Louisville on Wednesday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
After Kentucky (35-14) scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on a wild pitch with the bases loaded and Louisville posted a leadoff home run in top of the seventh inning to tie the game, the Wildcats rallied in the bottom of the seventh to claim the win. Freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel started the rally with an infield single before back-to-back walks to sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner and freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann to load the bases. That brought up Cumbess, who hit a grounder deep in the hole on the left side of the infield, scoring Samuel and giving Kentucky the victory.
Cumbess led Kentucky offensively with a 2-for-4 night with the lone UK RBI. The native of Normal, Ill., has now hit safely in 14 of her last 15 games. For the season, Cumbess is hitting .363 (58-for-160) with 12 doubles, 11 home runs and 38 RBI. Senior Alice O’Brien and junior Ginny Carroll also had multi-hit games with O’Brien going 2-for-3 with a double, while Carroll was 2-for-2 with two singles. Freshman Christian Stokes and Samuel each had singles.
Nunley was terrific in the circle for Kentucky, throwing a complete game, allowing one earned run on seven hits with three strikeouts. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., is now 21-6 on the year with a 2.04 ERA, throwing 192.0 innings pitched with 146 strikeouts – which is seventh most in school history in a single season.
The win for Kentucky marked its sixth over a ranked foe this season and its third over a top-10 team this season. In the six-year tenure of head coach Rachel Lawson, the Wildcats have now defeated 37 top-25 teams and 22 top-15 teams. UK started the year with a win over No. 3 California while it has also defeated No. 3 Florida, No. 16 Washington, No. 20 Stanford and No. 25 North Carolina.
Louisville (42-7) started junior pitcher Rachel La Coq in the circle with the hurler throwing six strong innings allowing one run on seven hits with one strikeout. La Coq was replaced by junior Caralisa Connell to start the seventh inning. Connell record an out to start the inning before allowing a single and back-to-back walks to load the bases. Louisville then brought La Coq back into the game to pitch with the junior giving up the game-winning hit to Cumbess. Connell picked up the loss moving to 25-3 on the year.
Offensively, Louisville was led by senior Alicja Wolny, who went 2-for-3 with a double, while junior Tanner Fowler went 1-for-3 with a solo home run. Senior outfielder Jordan Trimble went 2-for-4 in the game, while junior Katie Keller and senior Katelyn Mann each had singles.
Louisville still leads the all-time series against Kentucky 18-14, including a 9-7 edge in the series in games played in Lexington. Kentucky’s win Wednesday snapped a four-game winning streak for the Cardinals in the series. UK and U of L met three times last season with the Cardinals earning one-run wins in all three games. The final meeting was an NCAA Regional elimination game in Louisville with the Cardinals posting a 3-2 victory. U of L leads the all-time series in games played in Louisville 9-7. UK has played more games against Louisville than any other non-SEC team in school history.
This was the second meeting of the year between the two teams with Louisville earning a 5-1 victory at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Ky., back on April 3.
Kentucky will now turn its attention back to Southeastern Conference action as it hosts a three-game series against highly ranked Missouri this weekend. Friday and Sunday’s game will also be televised on the UK/IMG Sports Network to the Fox Sports South footprint.
The Wildcats scored first in the game getting a run on a wild pitch. After two quick outs to start the top of the sixth, La Coq gave up back-to-back singles to O’Brien and Carroll to put runners on second and third for pinch hitter Ansley Smith, who got hit with a pitch to load the bases. During the at-bat of pinch hitter Maisie Steed, La Coq threw a wild pitch, scoring a run to give UK a 1-0 lead.
The lead for Kentucky was brief as Fowler launched a leadoff home run to start the top of the seventh inning to tie the game 1-1. The Cardinals eventually loaded the bases in the inning before Nunley got junior Maggie Ruckenbrod to fly out to Stokes, who made a great play on a Texas-leaguer pop up to end the inning.
The Wildcats rallied to clinch the win in the bottom of the seventh against Connell. After a one-out single by Samuel and back-to-back walks to load the bases, Cumbess placed a seeing-eye single deep in the hole on the left side of the infield to give UK the win.