UK softball’s success is on the mound

Pitcher+Kelsey+Nunley+%2833%29+pitches+during+the+game+against+%231+LSU+on+Sunday%2C+March+29%2C+2015+in+Lexington%2C+Ky.+Photo+by+Hunter+Mitchell

Pitcher Kelsey Nunley (33) pitches during the game against #1 LSU on Sunday, March 29, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell

By Jordan Ondrof

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After beating instate rival Louisville on Wednesday, No. 13 softball prepares for a weekend series against No. 5 Alabama.

The Crimson Tide are coming off a 17-0 win over Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday and a 12-1 victory over Southern Mississippi on Wednesday.

“Alabama is a tremendous program and they have been for years. I think we’re going to have to stop them on the mound,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “If we can get some good showings out of our pitching staff, I believe we can keep the game tight and have a competitive game.”

The Cats are led by star pitcher Kelsey Nunley on the mound, who tied the program record of 68 career wins with her shutout victory over Louisville.

“You can see we’ve had a lot of success out of a lot of our pitchers lately, and I think a lot of that is because of the leadership that Kelsey has provided us over the past couple of years,” Lawson said. “She’s a great teammate and because of that, our pitching staff is really close.”

Lawson added that the Alabama matchup is just the beginning of a challenging week for the Cats, which includes games against Florida Atlantic and Marshall.

“We’re continuing to work on our offense — trying to make it bigger, faster, stronger and better,” Lawson said. “We have a rough couple of weeks ahead of us so it’s important that we keep our pitching staff sharp, but at the same time give them the rest that they need.”

UK is led by senior catcher Griffin Joiner at the plate. Joiner was drafted 19th overall in the National Pro Fastpitch College Draft by the Akron Racers on Wednesday, making her the third player from UK to ever be selected in the draft.

“She’s a lot of the reason we win a lot of the games that we do. The fact that she was drafted the other night by the pro league says a lot about her and the program,” Lawson said.

First pitch for Friday’s tilt against Alabama is set for 5 p.m. at John Cropp Stadium.