LEXINGTON, Ky. – Junior lefty pitcher Meagan Prince threw her third no-hitter of the season on Tuesday afternoon, guiding the No. 12 Kentucky softball team to a shutout 9-0 win over the Northern Kentucky Norse. Prince becomes the first player in Kentucky history to throw three no-hitters in the same season. No pitcher had ever thrown more than one in a season coming into 2016.
Prince’s no-hitter is the fifth for UK pitching this season, which leads all teams in the Southeastern Conference. With the win, Prince moves her perfect record on the season to 12-0 in her 14 appearances in the circle. Her 12 wins leads the Kentucky staff, and now sports a new career-best 1.38 ERA this season.
Junior outfielder Breanne Ray capped off the no-hitter in the bottom of the fifth with a pinch-hit walk-off two-run homer to rightcenter field to give Kentucky its eighth and ninth runs of the game. The home run was Ray’s first of the season, and seventh of her career. Ray came to the plate with no outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and Brooklin Hinz sitting on first and launched a first pitch over the wall in right.
Kentucky’s offense was clicking all day on Wednesday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, depositing double-digit hits (11) for the ninth time this season. Seven different batters had a hit for the Wildcats, with four different players all recording two RBI. Seven different players scored a run for UK in its first-ever meeting with NKU in softball.
With the win, Kentucky improves on its best start to a season in program history, and now sits 26-4 overall (.867) and 5-1 in the SEC.
Kentucky caps off its five-game homestand on Wednesday afternoon at John Cropp Stadium with a 5 p.m. ET affair with the Murray State Racers. Wednesday’s game will be live on the SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app with Dave Baker, Carol Bruggeman and Dorian Craft calling the action.
The Murray State Racers enter Wednesday’s contest with a 10-13 overall record on the season, and a 1-2 record inside Ohio Valley Conference action. The Racers are coming off a three-game conference series over the weekend against SEMO, in which MSU won the Friday night game, before losing the next two to drop the conference-opening series. Murray has played two common opponents with the Wildcats so far, with a 1-3 record in those four games played. Murray dropped two games to Indiana, which Kentucky beat – and split with Evansville – whom Kentucky beat at the Frost Classic.
Three. Three is the key stat in Tuesday’s win, as it marks the number of no-hitters that Meagan Prince has thrown this season for UK. Prince is the first pitcher in Kentucky history to record multiple no-hitters in the same season.
Tuesday’s key play was Breanne Ray’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The homer was her first of the season, and drove in Brooklin Hinz, who was on base thanks to a Norse fielding error. Ray now has seven career home runs, with Tuesday’s coming as her first-career walk-off shot.
Meagan Prince was the key player in the game. She improved to 12-0 on the season, striking out three Norse batters, and not allowing a walk in the game. A Kentucky fielding error and a HBP is all that separated Prince from a perfect game.
Katie Reed and Sylver Samuel led off the bottom of the first inning with infield singles. An Abbey Cheek groundout advanced the runners to second and third with one out. Brooklin Hinz then had an RBI groundout to the right side to score Reed, and give UK the early edge. UK 1, NKU 0
UK got its first two batter on base in the second inning as well, via a walk from Nikki Sagermann and a single from Rachael Metzger. Reed then singled up the middle with two outs to score Sagermann and Metzger, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Norse fielding error to close the inning. Reed got her 14th and 15th RBI of the season. UK 3, NKU 0
For the third consecutive inning, UK got two on with no outs to begin the third. Sylver Samuel singled and Abbey Cheek singled to start the inning. Samuel with her incredible speed scored on Cheek’s single thanks to heads-up baserunning. Cheek then advanced to third on a passed ball, came around to score on a Hinz SAC fly. UK 5, NKU 0
Kentucky would score four times in the bottom of the fifth inning, as for the fourth time in five innings, the first two batters reached base safely. A single by Samuel started the inning, and then Cheek brought her home with a double to right field. Cheek scored UK’s seventh run on an E6 by the Norse, and Hinz came around to tap the plate on Ray’s walk-off homer. FINAL – No. 12 Kentucky 9, Northern Kentucky 0