Kelsey Nunley tosses shutout to become Kentucky's all-time wins leader
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky pitcher Kelsey Nunley tossed nine scoreless innings in the circle to become the school's all-time leader in wins, while the Wildcats rallied for an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving UK a 1-0 extra-inning victory against in-state rival WKU on Wednesday night at John Cropp Stadium.
After Nunley retired the side in order in the top of the ninth inning with two groundouts and a strikeout, Kentucky (29-17) got a one-out single from Christian Stokes, who moved to second on a groundout by Griffin Joiner. That set the stage for Maisie Steed, who reached on an infield single back to WKU pitcher Miranda Kramer. Kramer attempted to get Steed out at first but her throw went over the first baseman's head, allowing Stokes to score and end a pitching duel between two of the nation's best pitchers.
Both pitchers were dominate in the game with Kramer posting 18 strikeouts in 8.2 innings pitched with only three hits allowed and Nunley recording nine strikeouts in nine innings pitched with six hits and no walks allowed. Kramer received the loss to move to 18-6 on the season, while her 18 strikeouts were the most by an opposing pitcher in UK history. The previous record was 17 strikeouts, which was held by Southern Miss All-American Courtney Blades and Tennessee All-American Monica Abbott.
Nunley received the win to move to 12-11 on the season and take her career record to 69-33, becoming the school's all-time wins leader. The win for Nunley was her first since tying the school record on April 1 against Louisville. She passed former UK star Chanda Bell, who ended her career with a 68-44 record. On the season, Nunley has a 1.90 ERA in 151.1 innings pitched with 135 strikeouts and opponents hitting just .220 against her.
"Well I believe Kelsey is also one of the best pitchers in the country," Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson said when asked about Nunley's performance in such a low-scoring, pitching dominated game. "I think they're [Nunley and Kramer] are different pitchers, but I don't think you're going to find anybody tougher than Kelsey, I don't think you're going to find anybody who can command the zone better than she does and I don't think you're going find anybody in the country who's more battle-tested than she is. She's been doing this for us for the last three years. She's pitched in a lot of tight games. She's pitched in the World Series. She's pitched in Super Regionals. She's carried us throughout her entire run. So I think a lot of our win today had a lot to do with how tough she is and how she's been over the years."
"Well, I'm happy," Nunley said when asked about becoming the school's all-time leader in wins. "I know Chanda Bell was a really good pitcher so it's a great accomplishment to be able to go ahead of her. I'm just proud."