It's softball time again, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and the Kentucky Wildcats start the season just outside the top 25 in the NFCA poll. Kentucky was among the teams also getting votes, garnering a total of 23, which would put them at approximately #29 to begin the season.
For their first test of the season, the Wildcats traveled all the way out to Tempe, Arizona for the Kajikawa Classic. In the first game of that tournament, they were up against the #3 ranked California Golden Bears, and sent a message to the nation by upsetting Cal. Junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess allowed only two runs despite getting into a jam in the 9th with runners on the corners and 2 down. She struck out California's Ashley Decker to end the game and preserve the victory.
The 'Cats then dropped the Wesern Michigan Broncos in the second game of Friday's double-header with a true freshman, Kelsey Nunley, on the mound. The Wildcats shelled the Broncos while allowing only 4 hits, and Nunley's fellow frosh Maisie Steed hit a solo shot to right field for the first Wildcat round-tripper of the year. The 'Cats collected 12 runs on only 8 hits with 11 RBI's for a 12-1 mercy-rule domination in five innings.
Saturday saw Kentucky face the Oregon St. Beavers, ranked just behind Kentucky in the pre-season poll. The Wildcats won that game 5-3 despite being outhit by the Beavers 10-8. Kelsey Nunley picked up her second win in relief of junior starter Ellen Weaver.
In the nightcap of the twin bill, the Wildcats faced the #4 Arizona St. Sun Devils, and this time they came up short, 8-1. The Sun Devils battered Kentucky's pitching, sending Laruen Cumbess to the dugout after 3 innings, and Kelsey Nunley couldn't save the game, and in fact allowed 5 earned runs of her own.
On Sunday, Kentucky faced the Portland St. Vikings and dropped their first game against an unranked squad, 5-2. Despite 6 hits and 7 Viking walks, the Wildcats couldn't get untracked against the Portland St. pitching. Ellen Weaver took the loss.
In the second game of the day, the Wildcats squared off against the #20 Standford Cardinal. Kentucky's frosh pitcher Kelsey Nunley once again ruled the day, going 7 strong innings and picking up a 3-1 victory. Nunley allowed the Cardinal only 4 hits and 1 run, while the Wildcats produced 3 on a solid 9 hits. Nunley fanned 8 of Stanford players on the way to another impressive showing.
The Wildcats return to action in the 23rd Campbell/Cartier Classic out in San Diego, California, beginning on Valentine's day, February 14th. That field features the #16 Washington Huskies and the #2 Oklahoma Sooners as Kentucky opponents.
This looks like another great year for softball, and a trip to Oklahoma City is a real possibility for this team, and they are getting numerous early tests of their mettle.