UK survives elimination against Illinois, set to face Utah in regional final


Junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley (33) pitches during the softball game against WKU on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 in Lexington. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Anthony Crawford

Even after the added pressure of rain delays forcing it to play basically three games in one day, UK softball showed resiliency going 2-1 on the day and moving on to play Utah for the right to move on to the Super Regional.

The day started for UK with its continued matchup with the Butler Bulldogs. The Cats were able to build a 2-0 lead in the top of the second before the weather forced the game to be postponed.

The delay, however, did not slow down the Cats in as they picked up right where they left off in their first game Saturday overwhelming the Bulldogs 6-1. Junior Meagan Prince pitched six innings with as many strikeouts while only allowing one earned run in the seventh. Freshman Katie Reed and senior Sylver Samuel came up big at the plate for UK leading the team with two hits each.

With the win, the Cats then moved on to face the Utah Utes for a spot in the regional final.

Utah took the lead in the top of the first inning with a two-run homer by Anissa Urtez and were never challenged from then on by the Cats. UK was able to come up with four hits in the game but the team was never able to get its base runners in scoring position.

The loss left the Cats with their backs against the wall for their final game of the day, an elimination game against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

The game started much like the teams second game of the day when Illinois took the lead on UK with a two-run inning to start the game.

The Cats battled in the five innings following that allowing no other runs, but UK was only able to secure one run heading into the top of the seventh.

Trailing by one and looking at what could have been their last three outs of the season, the Cats rose to the challenge in the seventh as Reed singled to center field to score senior Christian Stokes.

With the game tied, senior Kelsey Nunley came up huge striking out three of the four batters in the inning to force extra innings.

In the top of the eighth, UK wasted no time putting themselves out in front as a double by Stokes brought in freshman Abbey Cheek to score the go-ahead run.

Nunley then held strong in the bottom of the inning allowing only one hit to secure the win for UK. The senior allowed only three hits and came up with nine strikeouts in the win-or-go-home game for the Cats.

The win earned the Cats another shot at Utah, as they will have to win two straight against the Utes to move on to the Super Regional. UK will play its first game at 1 p.m. ET and if it can secure the win the second game will follow at 3:30 p.m. ET. Both games will be available on the WatchESPN app and ESPN3.