Nunley, Joiner helps UK softball top No. 1 LSU

By Kris Reid

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Cold weather, snow and stellar pitching from UK softball was what it took to defeat No. 1 LSU 3-1 on Friday, earning the Cats their first win over a top-ranked team in program history.

UK needed more aggression and different focus in practice after losing to Auburn last week, said head coach Rachel Lawson. The win over the Tigers ended a three-game losing streak and gave the Cats their second SEC win of the season.

“We weren’t aggressive enough last week, and Coach was like ‘we have to be on the hunt,’” junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley said. “So we came out and said we had nothing to lose, so let’s just go out and be on the hunt and try to play our game.”

Lawson said the win was gratifying for the team.

“They worked incredibly hard this week. They had to basically reinvent themselves and remember the team that they had been in the past that allowed them to be so successful,” Lawson said. “We were able to have some really demanding practices and today you saw the fruit of their labor.”

Nunley helped the team on the mound, limiting the Tiger’s best batter Bianka Bell to a run off of one hit. Bell had the only run for the Tigers as Nunley forced three strikeouts in a complete-game, 103-pitch performance.

“I love the challenge of pitching against teams of that are really good. That’s why I chose to play in the SEC,” Nunley said.

The dusting of snow was accompanied with abnormal, frigid March temperatures at John Cropp Stadium, but Nunley said the team had to power through the elements in order to beat a talented Tigers team.

“It was cold and I don’t really like the snow, but we really needed to come out on fire,” Nunley said. “It was a really fun game, and I feel like my team was behind me the whole time.”

Senior catcher Griffin Joiner also had a stellar performance in the game, going 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs batted in. Joiner also hit her sixth home run of the season.

Lawson said that Joiner’s batting was clutch for the Cats.

“She’s been clutch for us her entire career, so to be able to see her do it after had such a rough weekend, and to be able to do it against such an outstanding team really says a lot about her character,” Lawson said.

The Cats look to get another win in the series as the play Game Two on Saturday at noon. Joiner said the key to winning will be having the same mentality that they had in practice during the week.

“It’s a new day. We’ll just have the same focus and see what happens,” Joiner said.