By Tyler Spanyer | @KernelSpanyer
Despite a valiant effort from the No. 18 UK softball team, No. 3 Florida won two of three on the weekend to extend its SEC lead.
In game one of the series, junior infielder and pitcher Lauren Cumbess tried to keep the Cats alive both on the ground and at the plate. Cumbess went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to try to cement a comeback for the Cats but the Florida offense was too powerful as Cumbess gave up seven runs in a complete game effort.
Florida’s Hannah Rogers threw a complete game in the 7-4 Gators win, allowing just four runs on seven hits to pick up her league-leading 23rd win of the year.
On Saturday, John Cropp Stadium was dedicated in front of about 1,200 fans, who then witnessed UK upset its second top-5 team of the year in an instant classic.
Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley pitched a complete game, holding the SEC’s leading offense to just two runs on three hits. Nunley picked up win No. 20 on the year, giving her the most wins in UK single-season history.
“I would not be here without God, my parents and my teammates,” Nunley said following the game. “I was a little nervous to start but I calmed down and thanks to my team we got the win.”
Nunley allowed the first batter to reach base before Florida outfielder Kirsti Merritt blasted a two-run shot over the centerfield fence. Nunley then only allowed one other hit the entire game, striking out eight Gators.
Junior infielder Krystal Smith had a career day that included the go-ahead two-RBI single to give the Cats the 4-2 lead in the seventh inning.
“I was just looking for something that I could get the barrel on,” Smith said. “I had faith we were going to come back and win this game.”
In the series finale, UK could not hold on to Saturday’s momentum as UF won the rubber match, 6-3.
Cumbess started the game for the Cats but threw only 2.1 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits. Nunley came on in relief and threw the remaining 4.2 innings, allowing one run on two hits.
Cumbess did have another solid plate performance, going 2-for-4 and hitting her ninth home run of the season.
Cumbess also extended her hitting streak to nine games, which is a career high. After falling behind early, UK would climb back to make the game 5-3 in the third inning but could do no more as the powerful UF pitching staff held on for the 6-3 win.