South Carolina heads to Baton Rouge for a three-game series against LSU that starts at 7 p.m. EDT on Friday night.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-- Rainey Gaffin punches her first career homer, going 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs, while Erin Gabriel retires eight batters in five innings, holding Murray State to two hits as the No. 8/8 Lady Vols control the Racers, 7-0.
Tennessee posts eight hits as a team, improving to 24-6 on the season with Gabriel's record moving to 4-1.
Tennessee returns to SEC action this weekend at Lee Stadium, hosting Texas A&M Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET. Saturday's game will be televised on ESPNU, featuring a pre-game jersey retirement ceremony for former Lady Vol Monica Abbott. Stay tuned for a full recap of Tennessee's win over Murray State.
Four-Run Fifth Boosts Kentucky to Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind a four-run fifth inning that gave the top-25 ranked Wildcats a comfortable six-run lead, the No. 21 University of Kentucky softball team got back to its winning ways Tuesday night with a 7-1 victory over Western Kentucky University at the UK Softball Complex in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky (20-7) will have a quick turnaround as it will square off against Iowa at 4:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday to conclude midweek action. The UK-Iowa game will be the first of four games televised live this season on the UK/IMG Sports Network. The game will also be shown on the entire Fox Sports South footprint. Check local listings for details.
Admission to the game is free of charge due to the continued construction of the new UK Softball Complex. The new stadium is nearly completed, but until construction in the seating areas is fully complete, admission to games will be free of charge. Fans can contact the UK Ticket Office with any questions prior to attending a game at 1-800-928-2287.
The Wildcats had a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning before the offense exploded for four runs. The inning started with sophomore catch Griffin Joiner getting hit by a pitch and was pinch ran for by Sarah Frazer, who advanced to third on the single to right-centerfield by junior outfielder Ginny Carroll. With runners at the corners and one out, true freshman Nikki Sagermann laced her second single of the game to rightfield, scoring the first run of the inning. Junior pinch hitter Emily Gaines then singled to leftfield to score the second run of the inning and after a strikeout, freshman Maisie Steed reached on a fielding error that allowed two more runs to score and give UK the decisive 7-1 lead.
Nikki Sagermann was the offensive star in the game for Kentucky, going 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, including her first collegiate home run. The native of Buford, Ga., now leads the Wildcats in batting average this season with a .370 (17-for-46) clip, including one double and nine RBI. Six other Wildcats earned hits, including a two-RBI single by freshman infielder Christian Stokes.
In the circle, UK got a four-inning win from junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess, who allowed only one earned run on three hits with three strikeouts. Cumbess is now 5-2 on the year with a 2.50 earned-run average. Freshman Kelsey Nunley threw the final three innings for UK to pick up her first career save. Nunley allowed one hit and no runs with four strikeouts in the game. The outing for Nunley lowered her ERA to a team-best 2.25. +
WKU (15-9) started Mallorie Sulaski in the circle. Sulaski went 1.2 innings, giving up three runs on three hits with three strikeouts. Janna Scheff came on in relief, going 4.1 innings allowing four runs - two earned - on five hits.
Kentucky scored first in the game, getting the first homer of the year from true freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann. Junior infielder Emily Jolly kept the rally going with a single to leftfield, moving to second on a stolen base before back-to-back walks loaded the bases. That brought up Stokes, who singled through the left side of the infield, scoring two runs and giving UK a 3-0 lead.
WKU got on the board in the top of the fourth inning, getting an RBI single by Jacqueline McGill. After a one-out walk to Sulaski, Clara Garcia singled to leftfield to put runners at first and second. McGill then hit a single up the middle, scoring the pinch runner Bethany Oglesby and cutting the UK lead to 3-1. Cumbess got two fly outs to end the inning.
The Wildcats are 12-7 all-time against the Hilltoppers, including a 8-3 record in Lexington. The two teams first met in 2000 and have played every year since but two (2008 and 2011). This was the first of two meetings on the year between the Wildcats and Hilltoppers as Kentucky will take a trip to Bowling Green, Ky., on March 26.
Before the game Tuesday vs. WKU, the Wildcats fell to No. 21 in both the USA Today/National Fastball Coaches Association and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. Kentucky was ranked 17th by both outlets last week.
Iowa enters Wednesday's game receiving votes in both major collegiate softball polls. Megan Blank leads the team in hitting at .390 (30-for-77) with six doubles, one triple, five homers and 35 RBI. Kayla Massey is hitting .378 (28-for-74) with three doubles, five homers and 21 RBI. In the circle, Massey leads the team with an 8-4 record and a 2.46 ERA, while Chelsea Lyon is 8-4 with a 2.79 ERA.
Iowa is 18-8 on the year after falling to No. 11 Louisville on Tuesday afternoon. The Hawkeyes beat the Cardinals on Monday, however.
Kentucky and Iowa have met only twice in softball with each team owning a win. UK lost to Iowa in the first meeting in 1997 in Bloomington, Ind., before defeating the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, Iowa in 2003. This is the first meeting in Lexington.
Kentucky will play host to the SEC Tournament this season for the first time in school history. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will be May 8-11 in Lexington. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
LSU Sweeps Doubleheader
BATON ROUGE - The No. 13 LSU softball team extended its winning streak to seven games with an 8-0 five-inning win and a 3-2 comeback victory over Georgia Southern to continue its unblemished homestand Tuesday at Tiger Park.
The Tigers (25-5) have collected their best 30-game start in program history since the 2010 squad posted a 26-4 mark. Georgia Southern (14-16) has now lost six straight decisions.
LSU pounded out an 11-hit attack during game one. It marked the ninth time that the Tigers have notched double digit hits in a game.
A.J. Andrews, Bianka Bell and Lauren Houston picked up two RBIs apiece, while Rikki Alcaraz contributed a 3-for-3 effort with two runs score and RBI. For Alcaraz, the three hits equal a career-high.
Rachele Fico twirled a two-hit shutout, her eighth on the season. The senior right-hander secured eight strikeouts versus one walk and improved to 15-3. In the process, she picked up her 69th career victory moving her past Ashley Lewis (1999-2001) for fourth place on LSU's all-time list.
The Tigers erupted for five runs during the second inning. Bell and Alcaraz cranked consecutive home runs to centerfield for the game's first run. It marked the second time that LSU has come away with back-to-back dingers this season. The previous time was during the Mississippi State series finale on March 10.
Sandra Simmons, who turned in a 2-for-2 performance, followed with a bunt single in-front of the pitcher's circle. Two batters later, Lauren Houston drew a walk. Both runners came around to score as Andrews smacked a triple off the left centerfield wall to push the LSU lead to 4-0. Jacee Blades capped the five-run frame with a RBI single to left field.
The Tigers closed out the 8-0 victory with a three-run fifth inning. Bell belted her second roundtripper of the game, a solo shot onto the berm in left centerfield. The last LSU player to blast two homers in a game was Anissa Young versus Fordham on February 26, 2011.
Alcaraz completed her three-hit game with a single to left field, while Simmons reached base via catcher's interference. The Tigers loaded the bases courtesy of Hailey Smith's pinch hit infield single, and Houston ended the game with a two-run single for the final margin of 8-0.
Game 2 - No. 13 LSU 3, Georgia Southern 2
Georgia Southern took advantage of a two-out walk followed by a fielding error during the first inning. The Eagles platted the two unearned runs on Tabby Douberley's double that one-hopped the left field fence.
LSU fought back with a two-run first inning of its own. A.J. Andrews and Allison Falcon set the table with a walk and infield single. With two outs, Kellsi Kloss provided the equalizer and lifted a two-run single to right centerfield to even the ledger at 2-2.
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the third inning. Falcon coaxed a leadoff walk and hustled her way around the bases on Bianka Bell's double into the left centerfield gap.
Georgia Southern put together a rally during the sixth inning against LSU starter Meghan Patterson after she retired a stretch of 13 of 15 batters following the Douberley double in the first.
The Eagles filled the bases after a pair of Patterson walks sandwich between a Shelby Morrill single. On a 3-2 offering, Patterson wiggled her way out of the jam after she got A.J. Hamilton to strike out swinging. She worked a routine 1-2-3 seventh inning to wrap up the 3-2 win.
Patterson equaled a season's best eight strikeouts against four walks to earn her fourth win of the season. The junior right-hander was touched up two runs, zero earned, on three hits.
Georgia Southern's Sarah Purvis was tagged with both losses and fell to 7-10 for the season.
LSU continues its 10-game homestand and welcomes South Carolina to Tiger Park for a three-game set over the weekend. Game times are set for Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games of the series will be broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge and can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Saturday's game will be carried live by Cox Sports Television with Lyn Rollins and retired LSU softball coach Yvette Girouard set to call the action. Friday's game will have live video available inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Every game of LSU softball will have live stats available at LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans can also follow every pitch via live in-game updates at the program's social media outlets @lsusoftball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball.
The Tiger Park Ticket Office will open 90 prior to the first pitch. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12.