Nunley, Saegermann lead Cats past Marshall in NCAA Tournament

UK freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley throws a pitch against Marshall in the softball NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, May 17, 2013. UK won the game in extra innings. Photo by Tom Hurley

By Tyler Spanyer | @KernelSpanyer

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Behind the arm of freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley and the bat of freshman third baseman Nikki Saegermann, the No. 12 seeded UK softball team beat Marshall, 2-1, in eight innings on Friday in the NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional.

The extra-inning affair was the Cats’ seventh of the season and the first in UK postseason history.

“It was a lot of fun, Saegermann said. “A rollercoaster of emotions for sure.”

UK (39-18, 13-11 SEC) had to come from behind after Marshall (35-21, 13-10 C-USA) got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning thanks to a slap-hit single.

After going down 1-0, the Cats got even in the fifth thanks to a RBI single by senior infielder Kara Dill.

“The consistency the Kara Dill brings to the team is great,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said, “She is an exceptional player and also a captain. To get her back is cool.”

The game would head to extras as both teams struggled to come by runs.

Nunley got in a jam in the top of the eighth after allowing a one-out single and hitting the next batter.

The freshman then got a close call at first to go her way before getting help from Saegermann made what was described by Lawson as a “great catch.”

In the bottom of the eighth, sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner led off with a deep double to center field that would have left the park if was hit to any other area of John Cropp Stadium.

After Marshall senior pitcher Andi Williamson intentionally walked two batters, Saegermann came up to the plate only needing solid contact to win the game.

Saegermann came through, hitting a ground ball single to right field to advance UK to the winner’s bracket.

“Coach just told me to get the barrel on the ball,” Saegermann said.

UK will next face Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Hokies defeated Notre Dame in the regional’s first game.

The Fighting Irish will meet Marshall in the elimination game at 3:30 p.m.

The loser of the UK vs. VT game will then play the winner of Notre Dame vs. Marshall at 6 p.m.

All games will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Full schedule:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Game 3 – Notre Dame vs. UK – 1 p.m.

Game 4 – Virginia Tech vs. Marshall – 3:30 p.m.

Game 5 – Loser of game 3 vs. Winner of game 4 – 6 p.m.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Game 6 – Winner of game 3 vs. Winner of game 5 – 1 p.m.

Game 7 – (If necessary) – 3:30 p.m.