FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Home runs by freshman Abbey Cheek and senior Christian Stokes in the fourth and fifth innings led an offensive explosion on Sunday afternoon at Bogle Park as the No. 12 Kentucky softball team captured its second Southeastern Conference series sweep of the season, defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks, 12-4 on Easter Sunday.
Kelsey Nunley earned her 13th win of the season, as she ups her season record to 13-2 on the year. With her relief performance on the day of 6.2 innings pitched, she now has a team-best 0.81 ERA on the year. Nunley went the last 20 outs on 116 pitches, with only two hits allowed and nine strikeouts.
Kentucky picks up its second SEC series sweep of the season, as UK also swept South Carolina to open league play two weeks ago in Columbia. The Wildcats are now 30-4 on the season overall and 8-1 through the first nine league games of the season.
Arkansas got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning, with four runs on no hits off of starting pitcher Shannon Smith. The Wildcats defense had three errors in the inning, and all four runs that were scored were unearned runs.
Kentucky would get to Arkansas starter Grace Moll in the fourth and fifth innings, scoring five runs in both innings to take the lead that it wouldn’t relinquish halfway through the game and give Kentucky its first double-digit run total against an SEC team since April 13, 2014 in an 11-4 win in Oxford, Miss., over the Ole Miss Rebels.
Five. Two times, in the fourth and fifth innings, Kentucky’s offense scored five runs, marking the ninth and 10th times this season that UK has scored five or more runs in an inning. That ties the 2014 team’s season total that went to the Women’s College World Series – and there are only two teams (2007 - 12, 2011 -11) that have ever had more.
With Kentucky trailing 4-3 in the top of the fifth inning, freshman stud Abbey Cheek deposited her first home run in a month over the secondary fence and out of the ballpark to left field with a runner on base to give Kentucky its first lead of the game, and a lead that UK would not relinquish. Cheek went 2-for-2 on the day with a single and two walks in addition to the homer. It was Cheek’s fourth home run of the year and first-career SEC home run.
Jenny Schaper was the key player in Sunday’s 12-4 win over Arkansas, going 2-for-4 at the plate, including arguable the biggest offensive play of the day for UK. In the top of the fourth inning with two runners on second and third and two outs and Kentucky trailing 4-1, Schaper hit one to the wall in rightcenter field to score both and make it a 4-3 game, in what would be a five-run inning for UK. Schaper led all Kentucky hitters on the week, batting .538 in UK’s five games and also tallying her first-career home run in Friday’s 9-0 win over Arkansas.
In the bottom of the first inning, Arkansas scored four runs on three Kentucky errors and no hits to give the Razorbacks a 4-0 early lead. Shannon Smith hit a batter with the bases loaded, scored a run on a wild pitch and a two-run error in right gave Arkansas a 4-0 lead. ARK 4 UK 0
In the top of the fourth inning, Kentucky would score five runs. Katie Reed, Nikki Sagermann and Brooklin Hinz would all walk with no outs to lead off the inning before a 5-3 groundout by Breanne Ray put UK on the board. Jenny Schaper then came to the plate with runners on second and third and two outs and drove a ball to the wall in right to score two and make it 4-3. Then with Schaper on first, freshman Abbey Cheek homered to left out of the ballpark and over the secondary fencing to give Kentucky its first lead of the game. UK 5, ARK 4
UK would tally five more runs in the top of the fifth inning to break the game open. Three two-out walks by Sagermann, Hinz and Ray loaded the bases for senior Christian Stokes, who hit a grand slam to rightcenter field, giving UK a five-run lead. Schaper would score again on an RBI single by Maisie Steed. UK 10, ARK 4
After a leadoff stand-up triple to begin the sixth inning, Sylver Samuel represented Kentucky’s 11th run of the game with Katie Reed’s second SAC fly of the day to center. UK 11, ARK 4
Three straight singles by Sylver Samuel, Maisie Steed and Abbey Cheek brought in Cheek to score and make it 12. FINAL – No. 12 Kentucky 12, Arkansas 4For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.