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Wildcats receive seventh straight NCAA at-large bid; WKU, Louisville also in the field

Kentucky made the NCAA Softball Championship field as an at-large entry for the seventh year in a row and will play in the South Bend Regional as the No. 2 seed (UK Athletics Photo)

Kentucky made the NCAA Softball Championship field as an at-large entry for the seventh year in a row and will play in the South Bend Regional as the No. 2 seed (UK Athletics Photo)


For the seventh consecutive season the Kentucky softball team has received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament with the selection committee placing the Wildcats as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA South Bend Regional.

The double-elimination regional, which features four teams in No. 16 national seed Notre Dame, Kentucky, Northwestern and Ball State, will run Friday through Sunday at Melissa Cook Stadium in South Bend, Ind. Kentucky’s tournament run will start against Northwestern at 2 p.m. on Friday before Ball State and Notre Dame conclude the night at 5 p.m.

This is the first time since 2012 that Kentucky has not been a top-16 national seed and hosted a regional. A complete schedule of events is listed below.

Red-hot Conference USA Champion Western Kentucky (34-12, 16-5 C-USA) earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament with its 3-1 triumph over Florida Atlantic in the C-USA title game and will travel to Athens, Georgia, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Lady Toppers, which are led by nationally-recognized ace pitcher Miranda Kramer, will play North Carolina in their tourney opener on May 15 at 1:30 p.m. No. 14 seed Georgia will host Central Connecticut State in the other regional contest.

For WKU, it is its second trip to the tournament in program history (2013), and the Lady Toppers hold a 2-2 record all-time in the event.

The Louisville softball team will travel to Columbia, Mo. to face Kansas (38-13) in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Championship on May 15 at 5 p.m. Missouri (39-14) earned the No. 10 overall seed and will play Indiana State (26-29)in the other first round game. The regional will continue through May 17. Television coverage for the regional has not yet been announced.

The winner of the Columbia Regional will advance to a Super Regional to play the winner of the UCLA Regional which features the overall No.7 seed UCLA, San Diego State, Texas and CS Northridge.

The Cardinals are making their 12th straight NCAA appearance after posting a 30-17 overall record and a 16-7 mark ACC play during their inaugural season in the league. Louisville earned a fourth place finish during the regular season.

This is the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in school history for Kentucky, becoming one of just 21 teams in the nation to claim that honor. UK made its first showing in the tournament in 2009 and went 2-2 in the tournament that season in the Columbus Regional before returning to the Columbus Regional in 2010.

Last season, Kentucky had the most successful tournament run in program history, hosting a regional and defeating Ohio, James Madison and DePaul to punch its second straight ticket to a NCAA Super Regional. The Wildcats kept the tournament run alive against highly ranked UCLA, winning two of three games vs. the Bruins to advance to the 2014 Women’s College World Series. It was UK’s first ever appearance in the WCWS, where it went 1-2.

Kentucky won all three of its games in the 2011 Ann Arbor Regional to advance to a Super Regional for the first time in school history. The Wildcats hosted the Super Regional that season, dropping a best-of-three set to highly ranked Cal. UK went 1-2 in the Louisville Regional in 2012, while it hosted a regional for the first time in program history in 2013 and advanced to the NCAA Tempe Super Regional.

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The Wildcats are one of 11 Southeastern Conference teams to earn a bid into the tournament. Each of the last two years the SEC has placed 11 teams into the event. The SEC has more teams in the tournament than any other conference.

Kentucky enters the event with a 29-24 record after facing the second-toughest schedule in the nation according to the latest NCAA RPI. The Wildcats played 53 games this season, including 26 against top-25 RPI teams and 35 against top-50 RPI teams. UK played 27 straight games against top-50 RPI teams and haven’t played a team outside the top 50 since March 18. UK only has one loss this season against a team ranked outside the top 50.

South Bend Regional

Friday, May 15
Game 1 – Northwestern vs. Kentucky – 2 p.m.
Game 2 – Ball State vs. Notre Dame – 5 p.m.

Saturday, May 16
Game 3 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – Noon
Game 4 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 3 p.m.
Game 5 – Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 6 p.m.

Sunday, May 17
Game 6 – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 -1 p.m.
Game 7 – (If necessary) – 4 p.m.

From UK, WKU, UofL Athletics

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