LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the sixth consecutive season the University of Kentucky softball team has received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament with the selection committee naming Kentucky as the No. 14 national seed and one of 16 regional host locations for the second consecutive season, it was announced Sunday.
The double-elimination regional, which features four teams in Kentucky, James Madison, DePaul and Ohio, will run Friday through Sunday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky's tournament run will start against Ohio at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday after James Madison and DePaul begin the night at 5 p.m. ET. UK is one of nine schools in the nation to be a national seed and host a NCAA Regional each of the last two seasons.
A complete schedule of events and ticket information is posted below. More information will be available on the NCAA Tournament Central page at UKathletics.com over the next few days.
“For Kentucky to be able to host a NCAA Regional for the second consecutive season, speaks to the hard work and dedication from our student-athletes, coaches and administration,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “We will host some really good teams this weekend at John Cropp Stadium and we will need the Big Blue Nation to come out in full force to help create a home-field advantage.”
This is the sixth 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. 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.
Last season, Kentucky earned the No. 12 national seed in the event and hosted the program’s first NCAA Regional. The Wildcats went 3-1 in the regional with two wins over Virginia Tech and one win over Marshall to advance to the program’s second Super Regional in three seasons. The Wildcats dropped both games in the NCAA Tempe Super Regional to Arizona State. All-time, UK is 11-11 in the NCAA Tournament. All tournament appearances have come under Lawson.
The Wildcats are one of 11 Southeastern Conference teams to earn a bid into the tournament, for the second consecutive season. The SEC set a tournament record last season with 11 teams into the event. The SEC has more teams in the tournament than any other conference.
UK is having its best season in program history, setting a school record for wins in a season with 44, besting the previous mark of 41 wins set last season. Kentucky started the year with 12 consecutive wins, marking the best start to a season in program history and the longest winning streak in school history.
Kentucky ends the tournament with the most wins in a single season in program history at 44, breaking the previous record of 41 wins set last season. The Wildcats have consecutive 40-win seasons for the first time in program history.
UK is coming off its best run in the SEC Tournament in program history, advancing to the championship game before falling to highly ranked Georgia. UK started the tournament run with a walk-off win over Mississippi State, before taking down top-10 ranked Tennessee in the quarterfinal. The Wildcats punched their ticket to the championship game with a victory over No. 25 LSU in Friday's semifinal.
The three wins in the tournament were over teams either raked or receiving votes in the national rankings. The Wildcats have 14 wins this season over teams either ranked or receiving votes at the time UK played them. In Lawson's seven-year tenure, UK has defeated 51 ranked opponents.
The regional is a double-elimination format, with the winner advancing to a Super Regional against the winner of the Los Angeles Regional, which includes No. 3 seed UCLA and Southern Utah, Long Beach State and Notre Dame. The Super Regional, slated for May 22-25, is a best two-out-of-three format with the winner advancing to the eight-team Women's College World Series, scheduled for May 29-June 4 in Oklahoma City, Okla.