LEXINGTON, Ky. – Behind first-inning home runs from sophomore Brooklin Hinz and senior third basemen, Nikki Sagermann, the No. 13 Kentucky softball team powered its way to a 6-2 win on Sunday afternoon at John Cropp Stadium to win the series over the Rebels and move to 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play.
With Sunday’s result, Kentucky ups its season record to 25-4 overall and 5-1 in league play, matching its win total in the SEC from 2015, a season in which UK advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals for the fourth time in five years. Shannon Smith started the game in the circle for UK giving up one run on four hits, and senior ace Kelsey Nunley came into the game in the top of the fourth, earning the win on 3.2 innings pitched allowing one unearned run on just two hits.
Nunley with the win moves to 10-2 on the season, and sports a team-beat 0.86 ERA in her 15 appearances on the season. The senior from Soddy Daisy, Tenn., has 73 innings pitched on the season and has given up just nine earned runs on 41 hits with 16 walks and 87 strikeouts this season.
Sophomore Brooklin Hinz broke the seal on the game in the bottom of the first inning, lifting a homer to left field to score Christian Stokes off the scoreboard in left to give UK an early 2-0 lead. The next batter was Nikki Sagermann, who was celebrating her birthday on Sunday, and she homered to rightcenter field for back-to-back homers and a 3-0 UK lead after one inning.
Nunley stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning and broke open the game with a 2-RBI single into right on a bullet down the line scoring Sagermann and Steed to make it 6-1 UK at the time.
Kentucky will play five games over the next six days, beginning with two midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday at John Cropp Stadium with a 5 p.m. ET game against Northern Kentucky. The Wildcats will host Murray State at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday before hitting the road for a weekend series with Arkansas. Both Tuesday and Wednesday’s games will be live on the SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app with Dave Baker, Carol Bruggeman and Dorian Craft calling the action.
Two. Kentucky homered two times in the first inning, marking the fourth time this season UK has homered two times in the same inning, and the first time this season homers have come back-to-back. Kentucky has also now scored in the first inning in five of six SEC games this season, scoring the eventual game-winning run in all five of those six occasions. UK is outscoring its opponents 45-9 in the first inning this season.
The key play in the game on Sunday was Kelsey Nunley’s one-out single down the rightfield line to score Nikki Sagermann and Maisie Steed. Sagermann and Steed both walked to lead off the bottom of the fourth, and moved up a base on a perfect bunt by freshman Jenny Schaper. Nunley then roped the 2-RBI single to make UK’s 4-1 lead balloon to 6-1.
Nikki Sagermann was the key player for Kentucky, going 2-2 on the day with a solo home run in the first, a walk in the fourth inning and a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth. Sagermann got the start at third on Sunday, and also made the game-ending out with a nice pick play at third and throw over to Steed at first to end the game.
Christian Stokes made the most of her first appearance in the lead-off spot this season with a single to start the game to the second baseman. Sophomore Brooklin Hinz then launched a homer to left off the scoreboard to make it 2-0 UK. Nikki Sagermann would play add-on in her at bat as Kentucky went back-to-back after Sagermann homered to rightcenter field all in the bottom of the first inning. UK 3, OM 0
The Rebels would get one back in the third on a solo home run by Miranda Strother, who hit her second home run of the weekend. UK 3, OM 1
Kentucky would add three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and blow open the game at that point. Sagermann and Steed both walked to lead off the bottom of the inning, and moved up a base on a perfect bunt by freshman Jenny Schaper. Nunley then roped the 2-RBI single to make UK’s 4-1 lead balloon to 6-1. UK 6, OM 1
Ole Miss would score one more time, in the top of the sixth.