Other UK Sports

Kentucky softball earns split at defending national champion Alabama

Kentucky pitcher Kelsey Nunley.
Kentucky pitcher Kelsey Nunley.

The Kentucky softball team took some good with some bad on Saturday but was unable to make any progress in its quest to improve its seeding for this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Wildcats serve as SEC tourney hosts for the first time when the event begins Wednesday.

Kentucky entered the day as the league's No. 7 seed and remained in that spot after splitting a doubleheader against defending national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The 19th-ranked Wildcats blanked the No. 8 Crimson Tide 5-0 in the opener behind the four-hit pitching of freshman Kelsey Nunley.

Alabama bounced back to whip Kentucky 14-0 in the second game.

In the opener, Nunley (23-7) struck out five in pitching her 18th complete game of the season.

Nunley lowered her season ERA to 1.89.

The win was UK's first ever at Alabama in 19 tries, and Kentucky's third in 41 meetings with the Crimson Tide overall.

Kentucky broke the game open with three runs in the second inning, which included freshman Christian Stokes' fifth home run.

Alice O'Brien started Kentucky's three-run second with a bloop single to left. Nikki Sagermann put down a bunt to advance O'Brien but both runners ended up reaching safely. After a pop-up for the first out, both runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. Ansley Smith's sacrifice fly scored O'Brien. Stokes followed with a two-run homer.

The Cats scored two more in the fifth. Smith walked and Stokes singled to put runners on first and third. Sylver Samuel bunted Stokes to second base. Maisie Steed walked to load the bases. Then Griffin Joiner singled to drive in two.

Alabama wasted no time getting its revenge, scoring 10 runs in the first inning in Game 2.

Molly Fichtner got things started with a three-run homer off UK starter Lauren Cumbess (10-7). The next batter, Leona Lafaele hit a solo homer. After getting one out, Cumbess walked Jackie Traina. Ellen Weaver replaced Cumbess and five more runs came home, including three on bases-loaded walks. Katie Henderson replaced Weaver and walked in another run before finally closing out the inning with a strikeout.

The Crimson Tide scored its final four runs in the second in the five-inning mercy-rule win.

Kentucky and Alabama conclude their series and their regular seasons with a game Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Kentucky 5, Alabama 0

Kentucky 030 020 0 — 5 7 1

Alabama 000 000 0 — 0 4 0

Nunley and Joiner. Jury, Sewell (6) and Fichtner. W—Nunley (23-7). L-Jury (15-5). HR—Stokes (K). 2B—Carroll (K).

Alabama 14, Kentucky 0

Kentucky 000 00 — 0 4 2

Alabama (10)40 0x —14 11 0

Cumbess, Weaver (1), Henderson (1) and Joiner. Traina, Sewell (4) and Fichtner. W—Traina (18-6). L-Cumbess (10-7). HR—Fichtner (A), Lafaele (A). 2B—McCleney (A)

SEC Tournament

When: Wednesday through Saturday

Where: Kentucky's John Cropp Stadium

Tickets: All-session tickets available online at UKAthletics.com. Single-session tickets go on sale this week. All-session tickets are $40, $50 or $60.

Note: Game times subject to change depending on seed of host team.

SEC standings

Eastern Division SEC All

Tennessee 15-4 42-7

Florida 18-5 49-6

Missouri 13-7 31-9

Georgia 13-9 36-18

Kentucky 12-11 37-17

South Carolina 7-16 30-22

Western Division SEC All

LSU 15-7 40-12

Alabama 13-10 41-11

Arkansas 10-10 32-17

Texas A&M 9-12 38-13

Auburn 7-15 30-21

Mississippi State 7-15 31-20

Mississippi 3-21 25-31

Saturday's games

Kentucky 5-0, Alabama 0-14

Florida 3-x, South Carolina 2-x

Miss. State at Texas A&M, (n)

Auburn at Arkansas, (n)

Tennessee at Missouri, (n)