LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the second consecutive day the No. 12 Kentucky softball team earned a dramatic walk-off victory, 1-0, in extra innings over Mississippi State. The win clinched the final regular-season series of the year for the Wildcats.
Senior Sylver Samuel reached base to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning and was able to shift into scoring position on an errant throw by Mississippi State's pitcher. Samuel, now one of UK's all-time leaders in stolen bases, baited the Bulldogs' catcher and as she took off for third, the catcher sailed the ball into centerfield and the speedy Samuel rounded third in stride and came home for the winning run.
The Wildcats improve to 42-11 overall on the season and 16-7 in league play. Mississippi State falls to 25-29 overall and 3-20 in Southeastern Conference action. Junior pitcher Megan Prince worked seven scoreless innings to improve to 19-4 on the season. She yielded three hits and a walk, while striking out four. Prince relieved starter Kelsey Nunley who tossed one inning and received the start in honor of Senior Day.
Nunley, Samuel, Ansley Smith, Christian Stokes, Maisie Steed and Nikki Sagermann were honored prior to the start of today's game in the annual Senior Day festivities.
The teams will meet for the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The game will be shown in its entirety on the SEC Network+, with parts of the game shown live on SEC Network Bases Loaded Coverage, where they will go around to all six SEC games during the live action windows.
Key Stat: Sixteen - With the win over Mississippi State the Wildcats clinched their 16th victory against SEC foes to set a new school record in that category. The previous record was 15 done by multiple teams. UK also clinched its sixth SEC series of the season. That mark ties the 2012 squad with the most series victories in a single year in program history. Kentucky posted series wins over South Carolina, Ole Miss, Arkansas, LSU, Missouri and now Mississippi State.
Key Play: Samuel's heady base running resulted in the game-winning run. After reaching base by way of an error, she quickly took off for second to move into scoring position. During Sagermann's at-bat, Samuel broke off the base by 10 feet to bait the catcher. When the catcher released the ball, Samuel took off for third base and stole the 82nd career base of her career. That mark ties Leslie Kwiatkowski for the most stolen bases in a career. With the throw sailing into centerfield, Samuel never broke strike and rounded third and then slid into home for the game's only run.
Key Player: Prince was spectacular in the circle for the Wildcats to earn her 19th win of the season. She tossed seven shutout innings and struck out four batters. She retired the final 11 batters in order who she faced to give UK's offense a chance to rally.
Run Recap: Samuel laid down a masterful bunt that was misplayed by MSU's pitcher to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. An errant throw to first enabled Samuel to shift to second. She wasted little time before stealing third base during Sagermann's at-bat. An error by MSU's catcher that saw the ball sail into centerfield allowed the speedy Samuel to round home and slide in safely for the winning run. FINAL - No. 12 Kentucky 1, Mississippi State 0.