Nunley, Cumbess Propel No. 12 Softball to Super Regionals
Kentucky wins NCAA Lexington Regional behind strong pitching from Nunley, Cumbess
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After dropping game one of the day that forced a
winner-take-all regional final, the University of Kentucky softball team
got three-plus strong innings of work from junior pitcher/infielder
Lauren Cumbess in the circle, who also delivered the game-winning RBI
single, while freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley shut the door in the final
3.1 innings, lifting UK to a 1-0 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday at
John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky (41-19) now advances to a NCAA Super Regional for only the
second time in school history. The Wildcats will face the winner of the
NCAA Tempe Regional between Arizona State and Southeastern Conference
foe Georgia. The Super Regional will be a best-of-three game series.
More information will be available Monday morning on UKathletics.com.
The win for Kentucky in game two was its 41st of the season, setting a
new school record for wins in a single season. The 2011 squad, which
advanced to the school's first ever Super Regional, had 40 wins. Sunday
marked the third time UK has played in a regional final, now holding a
2-2 record in those games. Kentucky is 11-9 all-time in its five NCAA
appearances with all five berths coming under sixth-year head coach
Cumbess was the do-it-all star for Kentucky in the final game of the
weekend, throwing 3.2 strong innings in the circle and delivering a
game-winning RBI single in the fifth inning to propel UK to victory. The
junior two-way player allowed only two hits in the game - both in the
fourth inning - before leaving the fourth inning with the bases loaded
and two outs. Nunley came in and kept the Virginia Tech bats quiet the
rest of the way, getting out of the jam in the fourth and throwing the
final three innings, allowing only three hits with two strikeouts.
"When I was preparing for Virginia
Tech earlier in the week, I actually thought Lauren (Cumbess) was the
exact matchup for them," Lawson said. "Lauren has such a good drop ball
and Virginia Tech is such a good hitting team. I wanted to keep the ball
in the infield, so I actually had thought about starting her in the
first place. But, when you are the head coach at Kentucky and you have a
27-game winner, and I start the one who doesn't have 27, I am going to
have my head on a platter if I am wrong. I have a lot of faith in both
of them. I felt good about Lauren coming in. To be honest with you, I
pulled Lauren aside before today and I said, 'If this goes into two
games, you are starting the second game and it is your job to come in
and shut the door.' So, whereas she just thinks she was giving (Kelsey)
Nunley a rest, that was actually plan B. I don't like to have plan B,
but I always have plan B in case things don't go our way. So, that was
my plan going into the game. I didn't tell anyone else that plan, but it
seems like they were reading my mind I suppose."
Cumbess did not earn a decision in the game, while Nunley picked up her
27th win of the season, moving her school-record win total to 27-9.
Cumbess is still 10-7 on the year with a 3.88 ERA, striking out 82 in
110 innings pitched, while Nunley, who has thrown a school-record high
255.1 innings this season, has a 1.97 ERA - which ranks second lowest in
a single-season in school history. Nunley now has 190 strikeouts on the
season, which ranks fifth most in school history. Nunley needs 10 more
strikeouts to become only the second player in UK history to record
200-plus strikeouts in a single season.
Cumbess and Nunley received some fantastic efforts defensively in the
second game to keep the Wildcats on top. On top of the Wildcat infield
turning two double plays in the game, junior outfielder Ginny Carroll
made a diving catch in the first inning to rob a Hokie player of a
single, while freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel made a great catch up
against the centerfield wall in the third
inning to rob a Hokie player of a double. In the fourth inning, freshman
infielder Christian Stokes made a diving catch in shallow leftfield to
take away a single.
"Our defense was huge," Lawson said. "I thought Christian Stokes' play
when she dove and got the play behind her was big. In game one, we
didn't make that catch, and that's why they scored two runs. So, the
fact that she made that catch and really stepped up on her birthday was
cool. I think the fact that Griffin Joiner did such a good job behind
the plate (catch every game in the tournament) was awesome. She did a
really good job. I think, too, Silver Samuel made a big catch at the
wall. I always tell the team that you never know when the game-winning
play is going to happen. I believe those were the game-winning plays.
And then Nunley coming in and closing the door - being able to come in
with the bases loaded and jamming them in and being able to get them to
popup was huge."
Offensively, Kentucky had eight hits in the game, getting multi-hit
games from Carroll and Stokes, who each went 2-for-3. Senior infielder
Kara Dill, sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner and Samuel each had singles,
while Samuel scored the game's only run on the RBI single by Cumbess.
Virginia Tech (38-21) started pitcher Jasmin Harrell in the game, who
went seven innings, allowing only one unearned run on eight hits with
two strikeouts. Harrell, who threw all 13 innings against Marshall on
Saturday night to get Virginia Tech into the regional final, picked up
the tough-luck loss, moving to 18-9 on the season.
The Hokies earned five hits the game, getting a multi-hit day from Baily
Liddle, who went 2-for-3, while Dani Anderson, Courtney Liddle and
Bkaye Smith each had singles.
Kentucky scored its lone run of the game in the fifth inning, moving to
26-5 this season when it scores first in the game. Samuel started the
rally by reaching on an error by the second baseman, moving to second on
Dill's groundout. After Joiner flied out to deep leftfield to move
third, Cumbess hit a laser at the first baseman that deflected off the
edge of her glove and rolled into foul territory for a single, scoring
Virginia Tech forced the seventh game of the regional with an impressive
performance in the first game of the day, taking down the Wildcats 2-0
behind a strong pitching effort from Kelly Heinz. The Hokie hurler threw
a complete game in the contest, allowing only three hits with three
strikeouts, besting Nunley, who started for UK in game one, allowing two
earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Lexington Regional - May 17-19 - John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
Virginia Tech (38-21)
NCAA Lexington Regional Schedule
Friday, May 17
Game 1 -Virginia Tech def. Notre Dame 4-3
Game 2 - Kentucky def. Marshall 2-1 (8)
Saturday, May 18
Game 3 - Kentucky def. Virginia Tech 6-2
Game 4 - Marshall def. Notre Dame 3-1
Game 5 - Virginia Tech def. Marshall 3-2 (13)
Sunday, May 19
Game 6 - Virginia Tech def. Kentucky 2-0
Game 7 - Kentucky def. Virginia Tech 1-0