After dropping a close game earlier in the day to Virginia Tech, Kentucky bounced back to beat the Hokies 1-0 on Sunday in the NCAA softball regional at UK's John Cropp Stadium.
Lauren Cumbess and Kelsey Nunley combined on the shutout for Kentucky (41-19) which advances to the super regional for only the second time in school history. The Wildcats will face the winner of the Tempe regional (Arizona State or Georgia) in a best-of-three series next week.
The 41st victory of the season established a new school record, eclipsing the mark previously set by UK's other super regional squad in 2011. Both clubs were coached by Rachel Lawson, who has led the Cats to five NCAA appearances during her six years in Lexington.
Cumbess played a huge role in UK's win, allowing only two hits in 3.2 strong innings on the mound and delivering the game-winning RBI single in the fifth inning. Nunley entered the game in the fourth inning, slamming the door on the lone Virginia Tech threat of the day, and silenced the Hokie bats for the final 3.1 innings.
Nunley (27-9) added to her school record for pitching victories in a season. The freshman has worked 255.1 innings with a 1.97 ERA, the second-lowest figure in program history. With 10 more strikeouts, she'll become only the second player in UK history to fan more than 200 batters in a season.
Defense also contributed to the UK win as outfielder Ginny Carroll made a diving catch in the first inning and outfielder Sylver Samuel turned in a gem by catching a deep drive against the centerfield wall in the third inning to take away extra bases. In the fouth inning, infielder Christian Stokes added a diving catch to rob another Virginia Tech batter of a hit.
"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."
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 finishe the season at 38-21 after ousting Marshall on Saturday night in a 13-inning game.
NCAA Lexington Regional Results
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
UK Softball advances to super regional
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