It was more of the same for the Kentucky and LSU softball teams Monday at Tiger Park.
For the third straight night, the Wildcats pitched a shutout as the Tigers’ offensive frustration continued to grow. Kelsey Nunley pitched a four-hit shutout as Kentucky won 2-0, a day after the Wildcats won 3-0 and two days after Nunley threw a five-hitter in a 1-0 win.
The No. 16 Wildcats improved to 34-8 and 11-4 in the Southeastern Conference. The No. 8 Tigers are 29-12 and 5-10 going into a game at Southeastern on Wednesday.
“Of course we’ve got to do better and the big hit needs to come,” catcher Kellsi Kloss said. “But I thought we had some quality at-bats. We need to keep doing what we’re doing and not press, and I think we did better at that today.”
After having its first 1-2-3 inning of the series in the fifth, the Tigers had their biggest threat in the sixth.
Bailey Landry led off with an infield single and Bianka Bell forced her at second. Sahvanna Jaquish walked and Kloss lined a single to right for LSU’s first hit with a runner on base in 35 at bats in the series.
Constance Quinn grounded back to the mound and Nunley (15-4) threw home for a force-out before Allie Walljasper struck out.
The Tigers threatened again in the seventh when Carley Hoover, who dropped to 11-5 despite throwing a two-hitter two days after she lost despite throwing a one-hitter, walked leading off as a pinch hitter.
Emily Griggs grounded out, Sandra Simmons flied out and Bailey Landry grounded back to the mound as LSU finished the series 1-for-40 with runners on base, which led to 25 stranded runners.
“(Nunley) has a good mix of pitches,” Bell said. “She puts the ball in a good spot and we got jammed a lot.”
With one out in the third, Hoover walked Nikki Sagermann and Christian Stokes. One out later, she walked Abbey Cheek.
Kloss went to the mound to talk to Hoover, and the LSU players thought their timeout request had been acknowledged by the umpires, but Sagermann ran home for a 1-0 lead.
That sequence summed up the series: The Tigers never scored, and Kentucky managed a run while the ball wasn’t even in play.
LSU coach Beth Torina spoke with home-plate umpire Kevin Davis for a few minutes and the crew convened briefly, but the run stood. Breanne Ray followed with an RBI single.
“The results may look the same on the scoreboard, but to me it felt completely different,” Torina said. “I thought we had better at-bats and we executed our plan better. We just didn’t get any breaks tonight.”