CARBONDALE, Ill. – Led by a career outing from freshman Lauren Cumbess the 24th-ranked Kentucky softball team downed SIUE 2-0 in the final game of the Coach B Classic hosted by Southern Illinois. Cumbess captured her second career shutout victory in the circle with a career-best 10 strikeouts. She aided her own cause with her first career home run to lead the Blue and White.
Kentucky has now won a season-best five straight and improves to 14-3 overall which is the best start to a season in school allure. The SIUE Cougars drop to 6-10 on the year.
In addition to Cumbess’ offense, the Blue and White plated its second run of the game from the bat of junior Brittany Cervantes who drilled her sixth home run of the season. Freshman Krystal Smith made her first career start at second base and charted a single. Senior Meagan Aull and sophomore Kara Dill also registered hits.
Cumbess was magnificent in the circle going the distance in the victory. She yielded what would be three meaningless hits and no walks on the afternoon to go along with her 10 strikeouts. Cumbess becomes the second freshman hurler in as many days to record 10 strikeouts in a single game as classmate Ellen Weaver notched 10 in a win over Southern Illinois Saturday.
Cervantes broke open the scoreless tie with a no-doubt solo homer to straight-away center field during the home side of the fourth. She took a 2-2 offering and delivered her sixth round tripper of the season to plate the only run UK would need in the run.
The Blue and White increased its lead to 2-0 with Cumbess’ long ball in the bottom of the fifth. Kentucky’s freshman from Normal, Ill., connected for her first career home run to help to left-center to help her own cause.
After dispatching of the first seven batters she faced, Cumbess yielded a single up the middle for the game’s first hit. The right-hander wasted little time in getting out of the inning, however, as she forced a groundout and then picked up her seventh strikeout of the outing to end the threat.
SIUE led off the top of the fifth with an infield single to get a runner aboard. Cervantes made a terrific play to get the lead runner on a sacrifice bunt attempt to record the first out. UK’s right-handed pitcher then topped her own previous record with her eighth strikeout of the game. The Blue and White escaped the inning with a grounder to Smith at second to preserve the shutout.
Kentucky will return to action for a three-game series with No. 7 Tennessee at the UK Softball Complex this week. UK and the Lady Vols will meet March 11-13 beginning with a 5 p.m. ET tilt on Friday night.