College softball: No. 12 Kentucky clinches series with No. 18 Missouri
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman Abbey Cheek hit her third home run of the week off the scoreboard in left field in the bottom of the sixth inning on Sunday to wrap up a series win over the No. 18 Missouri Tigers in front of 1,297 fans at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky and Missouri were locked in a pitcher’s duel all day on Sunday, with Cheek stepping to the plate in a 2-2 game to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning for UK. The freshman slugger, who had already hit three home runs in the last three games for the Wildcats, stepped up to the plate and took an 0-1 offering from Missouri pitcher Paige Lowary to left, giving UK the 3-2 lead.
Kelsey Nunley was sensational yet again, earning her third win of the week in the circle for the Wildcats, throwing a complete game on two runs allowed with nine strikeouts and only four walks. The win for Nunley bumps her record to 17-4 on the season and she will again make a strong case for Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week, after going 3-0 with three wins against ranked teams in the last six calendar days.
The Wildcats move to 37-9 on the season with Sunday’s result, and remain two games behind SEC co-leaders Florida and Auburn with a 13-5 record in league action. Missouri drops to 29-12 in 2016 and 6-9 in SEC play.
Kentucky will hit the road for a midweek game with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in Bowling Green, Ky., on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET from the WKU Softball Complex. After an in-state midweek, Kentucky will travel south to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a three-game set with the No. 4 Crimson Tide at Rhoades Stadium beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday night.
Four. Freshman Abbey Cheek hit four home runs in the week, with all three of them coming as game-winning home runs. Cheek hit homers in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday night and Missouri on Sunday afternoon in addition to Friday night’s third-inning blast which proved to be the game-winner.
With runners on the corners for Missouri in the top of the seventh inning, Regan Nash stepped to the plate and hit a chopper up the middle that was snagged out of the air by Nunley, who threw to Steed at first to record the 21st out of the game for UK and close the book on Kentucky’s sixth SEC series win this year.
Brooklin Hinz was a key player in Sunday’s series-clinching win, hitting a lead-off home run in the bottom of the second inning to tie the game after Missouri had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. It was Hinz’s second homer of the week and Kentucky’s first run of the game.
Missouri took the lead in the top of the second inning, scoring on an RBI fielder’s choice from lead-off hitter Emily Crane with one out and the bases loaded to score Rathburn. MIZ 1, UK 0
Kentucky responded in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run to left field by Brooklin Hinz to tie the game. UK 1, MIZ 1
Senior outfielder Emily Crane launched a two-out home run to straight-away center in the fourth inning to give Missouri the lead again. MIZ 2, UK 1
Kentucky would respond strongly again in the bottom of the inning, as pitcher Kelsey Nunley helped her own cause with an RBI sac fly to center with one out. Freshman Sarah Rainwater scored the game-tying run tagging from third, who was pinch running for Hinz – who singled to lead off the inning. UK 2, MIZ 2
Abbey Cheek launched a solo home run on an 0-1 count off the videoboard in left field to plate the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning. FINAL – No. 12 Kentucky 3, No. 18 Missouri 2