May 30, 2014 7:24 AM by UL Sports Information
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Kelsey Nunley handcuffed a potent Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns offensive attack to a first-inning home run and Lauren Cumbess went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs as Kentucky capitalized on a pair of errors and earned a 4-1 win on Thursday at the 2014 NCAA Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium / OGE Energy Field.
Kentucky (48-14), the No. 14 seed and making its first-ever trip to the WCWS, advanced to face the winner of the Alabama-Oklahoma contest on Friday at 8:30 p.m. Louisiana (49-9-1), the No. 6 seed which was making its sixth trip to the WCWS and first since 2008, will face the Alabama-Oklahoma loser on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Nunley (30-9), who fanned seven batters and walked five, kept the Cajuns off-balance in allowing four base runners past the first inning while earning her sixth victory in the NCAA postseason in eight decisions.
Cumbess gave Kentucky a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after the Wildcats capitalized on a two-out fielding error to score the first of two unearned runs in the game. Griffin Joiner drew a walk to put runners on first and second for the Wildcats before Cumbess doubled to the center-field fence to drive in Nikki Sagermann
The lead for Kentucky would be short-lived as the Cajuns answered with some two-out magic of their own in the bottom half of the frame.
After Nunley retired Natalie Fernandez and Hayley Hayden to open the inning, Lexie Elkins connected on a 3-and-2 pitch for a towering blast to left field - her 23rd of the season - to knot the game at 1-1.
Kentucky reclaimed the lead for good, 2-1, in the top of the second inning as Krystal Smith led off with a double off Cajuns starter Christina Hamilton (29-3), moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Ginny Carroll's sacrifice fly to left. The Wildcats increased their lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning when Cumbess led off with her 10th home run of the season
Nunley, who retired eight straight Cajuns from the second through the fourth innings, allowed a pair of lead-off walks in the final three innings but kept Louisiana from getting the timely hit. Kelsey Vincent drew a lead-off walk in the fifth inning for the Cajuns before Nunley retired the next three batters, including Christian Stokes' snare of a Fernandez liner to end the inning.
Hamilton, who joined Elkins as an NFCA All-American on Wednesday, scattered five hits and allowed two earned runs for the Ragin' Cajuns.
Elkins' home run, her 23rd of the season, tied her with former Ragin' Cajuns standouts Christi Orgeron (2011) and Holly Tankersley (2008) for the second-most in a single-season in school history. Elkins' RBI, her 73rd of the season, moved her to within one of tying Tankersley (74, 2008) for fifth on the school's single-season list.
The Cajuns were held to one hit in an NCAA postseason game for the first time since May 20, 2011 against Houston in the Austin Regional. During the season, the Cajuns were held to two hits in games against James Madison (Feb. 21) and at Troy (Apr. 19).
Redfearn, a Stillwater, Okla., native, made her second appearance in the WCWS after playing for Baylor as a freshman in 2011.
The Cajuns' three errors were the most committed in a game since Feb. 15 when it recorded four in games against Michigan and Memphis.
WCWS TO REMAIN IN OKC THROUGH 2020
The NCAA Women's College World Series will continue to take place in Oklahoma City through 2020, and significant improvements to the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame Stadium will be made during that time that could enable the championship to extend its stay through 2035.
The agreement between the NCAA and Oklahoma City includes a four-phase renovation process to improve facilities for student-athletes, access for media, and hospitality for fans. A new television compound also has been completed. The city is currently in the process of improving and enlarging dugouts, team rooms and training rooms attached to dugouts -- improvements which were completed before the start of the 2014 Women's College World Series. The next phase for 2015 includes expanded press boxes, a new building for game operations and upgraded guest service areas, with future phases that include expanded concessions, a new concourse and ticket area and an upper deck that will add 4,200 additional seats to the arena.
"The NCAA is committed to ensuring the optimum experience for the student-athletes competing in our championships," said Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances. "This long-term agreement with Oklahoma City enables us to take the time to improve the facilities to ensure an even better experience for student-athletes and fans alike."
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