#10 Kentucky Softball 2014 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats

Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
#10 Kentucky Softball 2014 Preview
Kentucky Team Page


The 2013 Wildcats enjoyed a season of “firsts” beginning with opening a new stadium. On the strength of a 19-4 start, Kentucky completed a 41-21 overall record  season (13-11 SEC) by garnering a #12 NCAA seed and hosted their own regional. In between, they tied the longest win streak in program annals (8), posted a winning conference record for the third year in a row, had wins against ranked teams such as Stanford, Cal, Washington, Florida and even took two of three at Alabama, a team first. The Wildcats posted 30 wins for the fifth straight year, were 13-4 in one run games-the list goes on. Kentucky hosted the SEC tournament and made an early exit, losing their opening game to South Carolina. Rebounding, they went 3-1 at the regional by posting a win over Marshall and taking two of three from Virginia Tech to advance to the Tempe Super Regional, but Kentucky’s season ended suddenly with 5-4 and 5-2 losses to #5 Arizona State.

2013: 41-21, 13-11
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rachel Lawson, 7th year

Field Players:
Senior Lauren Cumbess was arguably Kentucky’s best all-around player last year, not only leading the squad in home runs with 13 and runs batted in with 43, but also was strong in the circle, notching ten victories in 110 innings. No less than five others are now seniors in outfielder Ginny Carroll (.242 BA), second baseman Krystal Smith (.212), outfielder Emily Gaines (10 RBI), Emily Jolly and Sarah Frazer. Sophomore centerfielder Sylver Samuel led the Cats in thefts with 21. A strong second year class includes shortstop Christian Stokes, who scored 24 times and knocked in 29, Nikki Sagermann at third base (.314) and left fielder Maisie Steed (Team high 33 runs scored). Junior catcher Griffin Joiner hit .322 and was named All-SEC second team and All-SEC defensive team. Freshmen Infielders Breanne Bray and Stephanie Martino represent future hopes for the Wildcats.

Kelsey Nunley arrived in Lexington in 2013 and made an immediate impact by throwing an impressive 268.2 innings and racking up a program record 27 wins. She struck out 193 and posted an ERA of 2.14 in her rookie season. Head Coach Lawson will count on Nunley again with Cumbess (10-7, 7 complete games) again providing rest for Nunley when needed. 2013 high school Tennessee Miss Softball Meagan Prince and three-time Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year Shannon Smith will back up and look to gain experience in the always treacherous SEC.

Who to Watch:
Nunley threw a ton of innings last year; can she avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx? Look for Cumbess and Joiner to again have big years, and watch to see which freshman, if any, can contribute anywhere near the extent that last year’s rookies did.

Final Projection:
The Wildcats are poised to have a big year in terms of becoming one of the “Big Guns” in the SEC. They are a veteran team loaded with experience (eight starters return), but balanced with plenty of youth aching to make names for themselves and their school colors.  Early tests against Oklahoma and Texas should get their attention, and they face perennial conference foes Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Georgia. Running that gauntlet will not only garner respect, but could also reap another Regional Host seeding with another 40 win season.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Lauren Cumbess, P/1B, 201
Hits: Lauren Cumbess, P/1B, 65
Home Runs: Lauren Cumbess, P/1B, 13
RBIs: Lauren Cumbess, P/1B, 43
Runs: Maisie Steed, LF, 33
Stolen Bases: Sylver Samuel, CF, 21

Wins: Kelsey Nunley, P, 27
Innings Pitched: Kelsey Nunley,P,  268.2
Strikeouts: Kelsey Nunley, P, 193
Saves: Kelsey Nunley, P, 2

Madness 2014 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#8 Shannon Smith, P/INF


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