Softball faces Marshall and a familiar face

By Justin Chartrand

UK softball opened up conference play against Mississippi State University over the weekend and won the series, two games to one.

The Cats gear up to hit the road again as they travel to play Marshall University at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Thundering Herd have an inside weapon that is preventing Lawson from overlooking them.

Chanda Bell played at UK and served as a student assistant coach with the Cats last season.

Bell is now the pitching coach for Marshall and will have more knowledge than most about the Cats.

“She is probably going to have a little insight into what were going to do which makes it a little bit more challenging,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “Marshall has been a tough team for us. Last year we played them twice. We played them at regionals and both games were one-run ball games.”

UK’s pitching flexed its muscle over the weekend in Starkville, Miss.

Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley tossed a no-hitter Friday as senior outfielder Ginny Carroll went 2-for-3 at the plate along with a home run to lead the Cats to a 4-0 victory.

It was Nunley’s second career no-hitter, the first coming against Long Beach State University earlier in the season.

“I really think when you open up SEC play, and you can open up with a no hitter, that’s pretty special,”  Lawson said.

UK struggled offensively Saturday as the Cats left a season-high 12 runners on base.

The Bulldogs took advantage and rallied with a walk-off double by freshman utility player Katie Ann Bailey to win, 2-1.

Nunley started again on Sunday, when she tossed her second consecutive shutout and was cushioned by a three-run homer from senior infielder Krystal Smith as the Cats won 5-0.

“Kelsey did a great job, she had excellent command of all of her pitches and she did an awesome job of keeping the hitters off balance,” Lawson said.

UK had a 0.68 ERA in the three games and tossed 16 strikeouts against the Bulldogs.

“From a pitching standpoint Kelsey did a great job,” Lawson said.” I thought Lauren (Cumbess) did a nice job on Saturday of keeping us in the game and we just got to make sure that our two freshman pitchers step up so that they can not only start but close games when they need to.”