UK softball prepares for road match with rival Louisville


Infielder Nikki Sagermann (77) attempts to tag an LSU player out at third during the game against #1 LSU on Sunday, March 29, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell

By Kris Reid

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After winning a series against a ranked No. 1 team for the first time in program history, UK softball (23-9) will look to continue its success when it goes on the road to face instate rival Louisville (22-8).

The Cats wrapped up their weekend with a 2-0 loss to LSU on Sunday, but won the series with a 5-2 victory on Saturday and 3-1 on Friday. Head coach Rachel Lawson said she was proud of how her team prepared for a tough Tigers team.

“The team did a great job all week preparing for LSU, especially after coming off of a hard series against Auburn.” Lawson said. UK was swept by Auburn the week before. “I was really impressed with the fact that they were able to take what they were working on all week and be able to do it in game time. That shows a lot about our team’s toughness and their ability to compete.”

A solid performance on the mound by junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley helped limit a normally high-scoring Tigers team. Nunley threw a complete game on Friday and had a season-high nine strikeouts on Sunday, earning her the SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week award for the second time this season.

“Kelsey was outstanding. She commanded the zone and was able to pitch the ball exactly where she wanted to all weekend,” Lawson said. “She was a huge reason why we were able to win on Friday and she did a nice job of keeping us in the game on Sunday.”

Lawson said that the pitching has been strong all season from both Nunley and sophomore left-hander Meagan Prince. Prince is 9-4 on the season and has 59 total strikeouts.

Aside from pitching, the batting performance of senior catcher Griffin Joiner has also helped the Cats all year. Joiner leads the team with 30 runs batted in and is tied for the most home runs with six. Lawson said that Joiner is a professional hitter.

“She has great vision but she’s mentally tough, so she’s able to stay in box and really get a good look at the pitch.” Lawson said. “A lot of hitting is not only aggressive, but you have to be under control and you have to have the courage to see the ball. She does all of that really well.”

UK will need its momentum against Louisville, which is currently on a six-game winning streak. According to Lawson, the Cats will prepare for the Cardinals by only worrying about themselves.

“Working on our pitch selection, attacking the pitches, and just playing clean defense is something that we’re going to have to do a nice job of because Louisville is a very good team,” Lawson said. “They’ve always played hard, they compete, and they play very well against Kentucky. What we would have to do is play a clean game and get a great performance on the mound.”