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Arizona State eliminates UK softball in Super Regional

UK softball player Kara Dill, No. 15, bats against Marshall in the NCAA regional  on Wednesday  May 16, 2013  in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
UK softball player Kara Dill, No. 15, bats against Marshall in the NCAA regional on Wednesday May 16, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

The University of Kentucky softball team hit five home runs over two days off one of the best pitchers in the nation, but came home empty-handed in the NCAA Super Regional in Tempe, Ariz.

After a 5-4 loss to Arizona State on Saturday night in which the Cats belted four home runs off junior right-hander Dallas Escobedo, UK was eliminated Sunday with a 5-2 defeat.

Arizona State (50-10), the No. 5 seed, advances to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City on Thursday to face No. 4 seed Texas (48-8).

Kentucky ended its season with a 41-21 record.

The Cats never led during the best-of-3 series at Arizona State's Farrington Stadium, but they made the Sun Devils and Escobedo work for both victories.

On Saturday night, UK freshman Christian Stokes hit two home runs, and junior Lauren Cumbess and senior Alice O'Brien homered once apiece against Escobedo, who had not allowed an earned run in 35 consecutive innings.

UK freshman Nikki Sagermann connected off Escobedo on Sunday, a leadoff homer in the second inning to tie the score at 1.

Unfortunately for the Cats, the Sun Devils sent some balls over the wall, too — with runners on base.

Cheyenne Coyle hit a three-run homer off UK freshman Kelsey Nunley on Saturday night, and Haley Steele put Sunday's game out of reach with a two-run shot in the seventh inning.

Nunley pitched all 13 innings for Kentucky in the series. The UK ace allowed 12 hits and 10 earned runs, walked seven and struck out three.

Escobedo held UK to four hits Sunday, but the day before the Cats nearly erased a 5-1 deficit in the sixth inning thanks to solo home runs by Cumbess, O'Brien and Stokes. Stokes hit her first two home runs of the season in the game.

UK Coach Rachel Lawson said Saturday's offensive output was "the best hitting performance we have had in a little while."

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