The Kentucky Wildcats softball team, courtesy of UK Athletics.
The Kentucky Wildcats softball team scored the first seven runs of the game against the Baylor Bears, but one of the nation’s best offensive teams came alive in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring eight unanswered runs to post a 8-7 victory in eight innings and eliminate the Wildcats from the 2014 Women’s College World Series.
Kentucky (50-19) received a leadoff home run from senior outfielder Emily Gaines and a two-run home run from senior outfielder Ginny Carroll in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead in the game and scored two more runs in the fourth inning when senior infielder Krystal Smith scored on an error and senior outfielder Emily Jolly scored on a RBI fielder’s choice by Carroll. But after a Smith solo home run and sophomore Christian Stokes steal of home in the sixth inning took the lead to 7-0, Baylor’s bats came alive as the Bears scored eight runs on 10 hits with help from two Kentucky’s errors in the final three frames to win the game, 8-7.
Smith was the leader for UK at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. She set career highs in hits and runs scored in the game with a single, double and homer run. Stokes was the only other Wildcat with a multi-hit night, going 2-for-4 with a double, while sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel had a hit and junior catcher Griffin Joiner extended her program-best NCAA Tournament hit streak to seven games with a single. Gaines and Carroll each launched home runs in the game as well.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley tossed the entire game for Kentucky and finishes the season with a 30-11 record, including a 6-4 mark in NCAA Tournament play. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., who entered the game allowing the fewest hits of any pitcher at the 2014 WCWS that had thrown five or more innings, allowed only four earned runs in the game with five strikeouts and three walks allowed. Nunley ends the season with a 1.88 ERA – second lowest in school history – striking out 219 in 282.1 innings pitched.
This was Kentucky’s sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, becoming one of just 21 schools nationally to claim that honor. UK was the No. 14 national seed in the event and hosted a regional for the second straight year. The Wildcats are one of nine schools nationally to be a national seed each of the last two seasons.
A total of 9,323 fans packed ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday night for the session, marking the most ever for the WCWS fifth session.