LEXINGTON, Ky. – Thanks to a collection of Bluegrass barrels, No. 21 Kentucky (23-8, 5-4 SEC) swept the Mississippi State softball team (20-9, 1-5 SEC) in a Saturday afternoon doubleheader at the UK Softball Complex. The Wildcats won game one, 3-2, before picking up a 7-0 victory in game two, extending their winning streak against the Bulldogs in Lexington to nine games.
Five of the six games in the series the last two seasons have been one-run games. While MSU manufactured runs last season in Starkville en route to a sweep of UK, the Wildcats swept State this weekend by scoring 11 of their 15 runs courtesy of seven long balls.
GAME ONE RECAP
The second game of the series went much like the first game, with the Bulldogs losing by a run thanks to a pair of Big Blue blasts. Kentucky cleanup hitter Griffin Joiner hit a two-run home run in the first and third baseman Nikki Sagermann hit the game-winning solo shot in the fourth inning for the narrow 3-2 victory against the Maroon and White. The one-run victory was the fifth-straight game in the series decided by a single run.
Junior right-hander Alison Owen tossed her 10th complete game of the season for State, giving up three runs on two home runs with three additional hits. The Newnan, Ga., native’s record dropped to 10-4 after 6.0 innings of work in her 14th starting assignment on the season. Wildcats’ righty Lauren Cumbess improved to 6-2 after yielding two runs on five hits.
At the plate, junior catcher Logan Foulks had a team-high two hits, but it was the 6-7 combo of redshirt sophomore Briana Bell and redshirt junior Erin Nesbit that both went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Senior Shelby Fisher, fresh off her career-high four hits Friday, also finished 1-for-3 in game one.
The home team jumped on the visitors early in the first inning, thanks to a two-out rally. After two-straight popups, Friday’s hero Alice O’Brien hit a worm burner up the middle for a single. Joiner stepped up to the dish next and on the first pitch homered over the wall in left for an early 2-0 lead.
Bouncing back in the top of the second, the Bulldogs cut the deficit in half thanks to an RBI double to the gap in right by Bell, who knocked in senior left fielder Jessica Cooley.
Following a Sagermann’s second homer of the 2013 campaign, the teams played scoreless softball in the fifth and sixth frames before MSU attempted some late-inning magic. Foulks started the last stanza with a double off the wall in right, and was immediately pinch ran for by freshman Kayla Winkfield. The Bulldogs flied out twice and were down to their last out before Nesbit plated Winkfield with a single through the gap in left. With the tying run at first and the go-ahead run on the plate, Fisher grounded out to third in a bang-bang play at first base.
GAME TWO RECAP
Kentucky first baseman Maisie Steed hit two home runs in the first three innings and the Wildcats never looked back, downing MSU by a margin of 7-0 to conclude the doubleheader and weekend sweep.
Senior left-hander Stephanie Becker (6-3) earned the start and gave up six runs (five earned) on five hits. Kentucky’s Kelsey Nunley (14-3) shut out the Bulldogs for the second-straight day, giving up two hits and a walk to go along with seven strikeouts in a complete-game victory.
Cooley (1-for-3) and Fisher (1-for-3) mustered the only hits for the Maroon and White.
Steed, who was 0-for-8 on the weekend entering the final game of the series, hit a solo shot in the first frame, and a two-run homer in the third to give UK an early 3-0 lead. The Wildcats added to the lead with another two-run round tripper thanks to Emily Jolly in the fourth inning.
Kentucky tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the game its final score of 7-0.
Starkville's Team is back in action Tuesday as it travels to Birmingham, Ala., for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch at UAB. Live audio streaming of the games will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive), as the Bulldogs look to extend their 13-game winning streak against non-conference opponents. For live in-game updates of MSU's midweek clash, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.