Steed comes through with heroic hit in Cats win

Junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley (33) pitches during the softball game against WKU on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning. Photo by Hunter Mitchell

By Kris Reid

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UK’s coach Rachel Lawson lamented on Tuesday about her team’s lack of toughness and that message sunk in on Wednesday as UK overcame 18 strikeouts to grit out a 1-0 lead against WKU behind its star pitcher Kelsey Nunley.

Lawson was proud of the resiliency of her team, especially after suffering an embarrassing run-loss rule to rival Louisville just 24 hours ago.

“Before the game we knew it was going to be tough,” Lawson said. “We talked about taking each at-bat one at a time because we thought that we wouldn’t really be able to get on her the third time through the order, and they stuck with the game plan and did it. And I think any time a team can stick with the game plan they set at the beginning of the game says a lot about their toughness.”

With the win, Nunley earned her historic 69th career win to surpass Chanda Bell on UK’s all-time wins list.

“I’m happy. I knew Chanda Bell was a great pitcher, so it’s a great accomplishment.” Nunley said. “I’m just proud.”

Nunley allowed six hits and struck out nine, but despite the win, was overshadowed by the brilliance of WKU’s Miranda Kramer. Despite the 18 strikeouts, Kramer gave up the only run of the game in the ninth inning. UK finally solved Kramer after Maisie Steed hit an infield single that drove in Christian Stokes to give UK the much-needed victory.

“She’s a great pitcher,” Nunley said of Kramer. “That’s why she’s third in the nation in ERA. Props to her because she played a really good game.”

Lawson was also in awe of the WKU pitcher. Kramer’s 18 strikeouts set a new record for the most strikeouts UK has had in a game.

“She has exceptional spin. I think she’s got the best spin in the country,” Lawson said. “She can throw each pitch in several zones and it spins in a way that you’ve never seen before. It’s really tough visually to lock in on that. She’s also somebody that keeps her team in the game long enough, and that’s why they’ve been able to produce the season that they’ve had this year as well. I think that anybody who can barrel up on the ball against her has really done something special.”

With the win, UK pushed its record to 29-17, but upcoming games against Georgia and Tennessee will test the fortitude of a team that is still looking for its identity.

“We had a really embarrassing loss last night. So coach just got us back together and just told us that we’ve got to go out and play tough.” Nunley said. “ It’s not going to get any easier from here on out, so if we don’t get ourselves together and start playing better we’re not going to be able to do as good as we want to do.”