#8 Kentucky Softball 2015 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats

Overall Rank: #8
Conference Rank: #3 SEC
#8 Kentucky Softball 2015 Preview
Kentucky Team Page


The Wildcats are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first trip to the Women's College World Series and an appearance in the title game of the SEC Tournament. Kentucky went 1-2 at the WCWS and was knocked out in a crazy 8-7 loss to Baylor. The 50 wins last year was also the most in school history and it's easy to see why they're so highly regarded coming into this year.

2014: 50-19, 13-11
2014 Postseason: WCWS
Coach: Rachel Lawson

Field Players:
Kentucky brings back four of its top six hitters, including two of its main power sources, Griffin Joiner and Nikki Sagermann. Joiner hit .309 with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, 39 RBI and walked an impressive 47 times. Sagermann, on the other hand, had 10 doubles, 13 home runs and 49 RBI, the latter two of which were team highs. Christian Stokes hit .279 with a team-leading 13 doubles, seven home runs and 22 RBI. The last of the four top returnees is Sylver Samuel, who hit .287, combined with Stokes to score a team-high 38 times and stole a team-leading 20 bases.

The Wildcats' ace Kelsey Nunley returns for her junior season after compiling a 30-11 record last season with a 1.88 ERA and 219 strikeouts. Meagan Prince and Shannon Smith both saw action last year in the circle as well. Prince was 8-4 in eight starts and 21 appearances.

Who to Watch:
The entire freshman class. Three of the hitters the Wildcats brought in were power hitters in high school. Haley Andrus had a .478 career batting average with 30 home runs, 59 doubles, 196 RBI, 215 hits and a .795 slugging percentage. Brooklin Hinz had a career batting average of .561 with 174 hits, 21 home runs and 108 RBI, while her career pitching marks are just as impressive with a 73-8 record and 1.17 ERA with 602 strikeouts and 34 shutouts. Rachael Metzger's career included hitting .545 with 186 hits, 163 runs, 170 RBI, 38 doubles, 37 homers and only struck out 18 times. Erin Rethlake comes in as a highly regarded pitcher, including winning a Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year award. She struck out more than 500 batters her last two years of high school.

Final Projection:
The Wildcats will have a potent offensive attack again this year, led by Joiner and Sagermann. Sagermann nearly doubled her stats last year from her freshman year and, if she continues to improve, the lineup may even be scarier. Having Nunley back is good for the rotation, as Prince and Smith may be asked to step their roles up or maybe even the freshman Rethlake. The squad is a nice mixture of veteran and underclassmen, who will be tested the first weekend when they face off with Florida State twice. They also face Arizona, Long Beach State, Oklahoma, San Diego State and Louisville in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The SEC scheduling gods did the Wildcats no favors, as the team has to face Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU, Alabama and Florida to start conference play.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Christian Stokes, IF, 197
Hits: Griffin Joiner, C, 60
Home Runs: Nikki Sagermann, IF, 13
RBIs: Nikki Sagermann, IF, 49
Runs: Stokes, Sylver Samuel, OF, 38
Stolen Bases: Sylver Samuel, OF, 20

Wins: Kelsey Nunley, P, 20
Innings Pitched: Kelsey Nunley, P, 282.1
Strikeouts: Kelsey Nunley, P, 219
Complete Games: Kelsey Nunley, P, 31


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