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Junior Lauren Cumbess' walk-off RBI single gave UK a 2-1 victory over Louisville Wednesday evening. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Junior Lauren Cumbess' walk-off RBI single gave UK a 2-1 victory over Louisville Wednesday evening. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
After taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a wild pitch that scored Kentucky sophomore Sarah Frazer, the Louisville Cardinals came to bat with UK three outs away from defeating it's in-state rival. Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley toed the rubber looking to finish off her complete game shutout.

However, the leadoff hitter in the inning for the Cards, Taner Fowler, had other ideas. The junior took Nunley's 2-1 offering down the left-field line over the fence to tie the game at 1-all. Instead of getting down on herself, Nunley stepped right back in the circle and got the Wildcats back in the dugout without further damage.

The UK offense had Nunley's back and took care of the rest as the Wildcats loaded the bases with Lauren Cumbess stepping to the dish. The junior got a pitch she liked over the plate and ripped an infield single to the left side hole that was too much for Louisville shortstop Whitney Arion to handle and driving in the game-winner to give the Wildcats a 2-1 victory over the eighth-ranked team in the country.

Following the game-timing home run, Nunlely admitted she was a little rattled but quickly regrouped to give the Cats a chance to win in the bottom half.

"Right after she hit that homer I was a little shaky but you kind of always get shaky after that happens," Nunley said. "You just have to regain your confidence and go back out there."

Cumbess and the rest of the Wildcats seemed to keep their cool after the home run by Fowler. She kept reminding herself the advantage of playing at home and having the last at-bat. As Kentucky filled the bases in the seventh, Cumbess stepped in the box in the most pressure situation of the game.

The Normal, Ill., native may have been one of the coolest members in the ballpark. She was seeing the ball well all game and felt extremely confident when it was her time to deliver.

"I was actually pretty comfortable surprisingly," Cumbess said. "I feel like I had been seeing the ball pretty well all game even though I had only had one hit before. I was pretty comfortable and it was exciting. I always love being in those kinds of positions."

Head coach Rachel Lawson also felt good seeing Cumbess at the plate in the pressure situation. Lawson has coached the junior for close to three years now and knows just how smart and how good of a hitter Cumbess is.

In fact, if the sixth-year head coach could have chosen anyone on her roster to get the job done, it would have been Cumbess.

"I have a ton of confidence in Cumbess," Lawson said. "She's a strong woman and she's both physically and mentally strong. She loves softball and she knows the game really well so if I was going to have anybody up to bat I would want it to be Lauren."

The win was big for UK, who evened the season series after falling to U of L back on April 3, by a score of 5-1 in Louisville. The Cards have controlled the series between the two schools for a few years so the win was extra sweet for UK.

"Oh its huge. They have had our number for quite some time so to be able to come in and play it was actually a very fun game," Lawson said. "It was a fast game I thought both pitchers did a nice job. To be able to come out on the winning end is pretty exciting."

Time and time again The Wildcats has shown toughness to will themselves to wins. UK showed it again tonight by collecting themselves after the Louisville home run and producing in the seventh to get the win.

It was an all-around win for the Wildcats, who got production from the entire lineup, both offensively and defensively along with a great effort in the circle from Nunley.

"To get production in the entire batting lineup is big for us," Lawson said. "We were able to do that on Sunday against Arkansas and that has been a big thing for us. The fact that we showed toughness on defense, throughout the order and on the mound was big for us."

Rachel Lawson



Lauren Cumbess



Kelsey Nunley



Kentucky Sports Report (week of April 22)

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Baseball
- Kentucky continued a grueling stretch with 14-of-16 ranked opponents with a four-game week, with No. 8 Louisville earning a midweek win and No. 14 South Carolina sweeping the Wildcats in Columbia over the weekend.
- Sophomore two-way standout A.J. Reed smashed his team-high 10th homer of the year on Saturday, as a part of a 4-12 weekend at the plate.
- Junior lefty Corey Litrell tossed his seventh quality start of the year and 21st of his illustrious career on Sunday, allowing three earned runs in 7.2 innings.
- Freshman catcher George Fettes belted his first homer of his career on Saturday afternoon over the left-field wall that helped UK rally to take the lead before falling to the Gamecocks.

Softball
- The Kentucky softball team is coming off a 3-2 week where it swept a doubleheader at Middle Tennessee State before earning a win at Arkansas in a three-game set. UK defeated MTSU 7-4 in game one before a 13-1 triumph in game two.
- Home runs led UK in game two over MTSU as the Wildcats blasted five home runs to break the school record for most homers in a game. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner started the home run assault, blasting a leadoff shot in the second inning before junior infielder Krystal Smith hit a two-run homer later that inning. Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess hit a two-run home run in the third inning before freshman infielder Ansley Smith hit consecutive two-run round trippers in the third and fourth innings to tie and break the school record. In all, the Wildcats posted 15 hits in the game, including three doubles and 12 RBI.
- Cumbess has been the offensive leader for UK, hitting safely in 13 of her last 14 games with an extra-base hit in nine of those 14 games. For the season, Cumbess leads the team with a .359 (56-for-156) average, including 12 doubles, 11 homers and 37 RBI. Freshman Kelsey Nunley is 20-6 on the year in the circle with a 2.08 ERA. Cumbess is second
on the team with a 3.52 ERA and a 10-5 record.

Men's tennis
- Kentucky advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament, knocking off No. 9 Mississippi State in the second round, 4-2.
- The Wildcats bowed out in the quarterfinals after dropping a tight match with number one overall seed, and No. 2 Georgia, 4-3. Anthony Rossi defeated No. 6 KU Singh 7-6, 6-3 in his second win of the year over a top-10 player.
- The NCAA Selection Show is Tuesday, April 30 at 5:00 p.m. ET on NCAAsports.com.
Women's tennis
- The Kentucky women's tennis team lost 4-2 in its opening round match vs. LSU at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
- Junior Caitlin McGraw and freshman Nadia Ravita won the No. 1 doubles match 8-0.
- Ranked 22nd, Ravita recorded another singles win, defeating Kaitlin Burns 7-5, 6-3 in the No. 1 singles slot.
- McGraw also recorded a singles win for UK, taking court four 7-5, 7-6 (3).

Women's golf
- The women's golf team recorded its best finish at the SEC Championships in 20 years as it placed tied for fifth, shooting 58-over-par for the tournament at the Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.
- Freshman Sarah Harris was the highlight of the tournament for the Wildcats, finishing a career-best second place at 9-over-par for the event. Harris, who was tied for the individual lead after day one, was tied for fifth coming into Sunday before a 4-over-par, 76 catapulted her into second overall. The second place individual finish was also the highest this season for Kentucky.
- Junior Liz Breed, who was nearly as impressive as Harris over the weekend, recorded a career-high finish tying for sixth overall at 11-over-par. The Waynesboro, Pa., native came into Sunday tied for fifth before falling just one slot after a 6-over-par, 78 final round.

Men's golf
- The UK men's golf team finished in 13th place at the SEC Championships last weekend, shooting 50-over-par for the tournament at the Seaside Course in St. Simmons Island, Ga.
- Junior Ben Stow was the high finisher for the Wildcats, placing tied for 12th at 5-over-par. The Salisbury, England native was even par through the first round before posting 2-over in round two and 3-over in the final 18.

Track and field
- Kentucky opened the new UK Outdoor Track and Field Facility with the inaugural collegiate Heart of the Bluegrass Classic on Saturday.
- UK won all but one of the 29 events the team entered at the inaugural collegiate Heart of the Bluegrass Classic on Saturday.
- Cally Macumber and Michelle Canterna set the school records in their respective events.
- Macumber's mile time of 4:37.75 also set the facility record.
- Canterna cleared the new outdoor school record vault height at 3.87 meter /12'08.25".
- Keith Hayes won all four of the events he entered, including two relays.
- Rebecca Famurewa won three throws events, including a PR in the hammer throw.

Upcoming schedule

Tuesday, April 23
Baseball at Western Kentucky - 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24
Softball hosts Louisville - 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 25
Track and field at Penn Relays - 10:00 a.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Baseball at Ole Miss - 7:30 p.m.

Friday, April 26
Track and field at Penn Relays - 9:00 a.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Track and field at Triton Invitational - 1:00 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.)
Softball hosts Missouri - 5:00 p.m.
Baseball at Ole Miss - 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 27
Track and field at Penn Relays - 12:55 p.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Track and field at Triton Invitational - 1:00 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.)
Softball hosts Missouri- 1:00 p.m.
Baseball at Ole Miss - 3:15 p.m.
Track and field at Miami University RedHawk Invitational (Miami, Ohio)

Sunday, April 28
Softball hosts Missouri - 1:00 p.m.
Track and field at Payton Jordan Invitational - 4:00 p.m.
(Palo Alto, Calif.)

April 14 Performances of the Week

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Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, April 14:

Softball: Lauren Cumbess

Went 3-0 on the week to become the first player in school history to win 20 games in a single season, surpassing former stars Chanda Bell and Keary Camunas ... Started the week with seven strong innings against Marshall before a win against EKU where she allowed only one earned run ... Best outing of the week came against No. 3 Florida, where she threw a complete game Saturday, allowing only three hits and two earned runs behind eight strikeouts ... The win over UF moved her record to 20-4 ... Followed that performance with 4.2 strong innings in relief on Sunday, allowing only two hits with one run with two strikeouts ... Her 15 strikeouts this week moved her into eighth all-time on UK single-season strikeout list ... Leads UK in nearly every pitching category.

Softball: Kelsey Nunley

Went 3-0 on the week to become the first player in school history to win 20 games in a single season, surpassing former stars Chanda Bell and Keary Camunas ... Started the week with seven strong innings against Marshall before a win against EKU where she allowed only one earned run ... Best outing of the week came against No. 3 Florida, where she threw a complete game Saturday, allowing only three hits and two earned runs behind eight strikeouts ... The win over UF moved her record to 20-4 ... Followed that performance with 4.2 strong innings in relief on Sunday, allowing only two hits with one run with two strikeouts ... Her 15 strikeouts this week moved her into eighth all-time on UK single-season strikeout list ... Leads UK in nearly every pitching category.

Kentucky Sports Report (week of April 15)

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Baseball
- Kentucky baseball picked up a 6-3 win over Austin Peay on Tuesday, behind five strong innings from freshman righthander Kyle Cody and a two-hit performance from freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett.
- Kyle Barrett shined once again on Friday going 3-5 and plating the game-tying RBI in the series-opening comeback win over Tennessee.
- After a quality start that led the Wildcats to victory on Friday night, A.J. Reed crushed his team-leading ninth homer of the year in UK's heartbreaking 10-9 loss to Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.
- Junior closer Trevor Gott added two more saves during the week, improving his total to nine on the year and program-record 20 in his career. Gott's ERA is now an impressive 0.95 with a 4-0 record, while fanning 24 in 19.0 IP.

Softball
- The Kentucky softball team wrapped up one of its most historic weeks in school history last week with several records broken. The first was sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson becoming the winningest head coach in school history with her 182nd career win. That honor came a few days before UK upset No. 3 Florida on the same day it named its new $9.5 million stadium after longtime administrator John Cropp. Overall, UK went 4-2 on the week with wins over Florida, Marshall and two against EKU.
- Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley earned the win in the upset over UF, becoming the first player in school history to win 20 games in a season, surpassing former stars Chanda Bell and Keary Camunas. Nunley went 3-0 on the week with a 1.64 ERA, while junior Lauren Cumbess also earned a win in the circle.
- Cumbess was the star for UK at the plate, going 10-for-22 throughout the week with four doubles, three homers and seven RBI. Cumbess is riding a nine-game hitting streak - a career long - posting an extra-base hit in eight of those nine games. Senior Alice O'Brien went 8-for-19 on the week with a double, home run and four RBI, while freshmen Maisie Steed and Nikki Sagermann also had home runs.

Men's tennis
- The University of Kentucky men's tennis team has earned the No. 8 overall seed in this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament, it was announced on Sunday night.
- UK will face the No. 9 overall seed, Mississippi State on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CT. The Wildcats and Mississippi State have faced off two times this season already, with UK winning both prior matches.
- The first match saw Kentucky sweep MSU 4-0 at the ITA National Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash., in the Sweet 16. Kentucky lost the doubles point and rallied to win four of six singles matches in the second meeting of the season in Starkville.

Women's tennis

- The Kentucky women's tennis team upset No. 27 South Carolina 4-3 on Sunday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
- Junior Caitlin McGraw clinched the match for Kentucky with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win on court five.
- Kentucky won the doubles point, winning two of three doubles matches as Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica Stiles clinched the point by winning three consecutive games to win the No. 3 doubles match 9-7.
- Freshman Nadia Ravita defeated another ranked opponent, taking down No. 77 Jaklin Alawi 7-5, 0-6, 6-4.

Track and field
- The Kentucky track and field teams enjoyed one of the best total team performances of the season at the "Kentuckiana" Border Battle on Saturday.
- The Wildcats' men's and women's teams combined with Louisville to defeat the aggregate scores of Indiana and Notre Dame.
- Fifteen - 10 men's and five women's - Wildcat individuals or relay teams claimed event titles on Saturday.
- Rebecca Famurewa increased her UK freshman record discus throw to 57.09 meters / 187'04", which gives her the No. 2 ranking in school history.
- The mark also is the third-farthest discus throw in the nation this season.
- UK competitors won four of the seven throws events they entered.
- Tamyah Pipkin became the third fastest Wildcat ever at 200 meters as she won race with a time of 23.67.
- Kadeem Kushimo enjoyed a career-afternoon winning both the 100 and 200 meters.

Men's golf
- The UK men's golf team placed eighth in the 14-team field at the Gary Koch Invitational last week, finishing at 22-over-par. The Wildcats recorded top-10 team finishes in all six of their spring tournaments.
- Juniors Cody Martin and Ben Stow led the way for the Cats, shooting 5-over-par for the invitational and finished tied for 29th.
- UK wrapped up its regular season schedule and now look toward the post season as the Wildcats travel to St. Simmons Island, Ga., this weekend for the Southeastern Conference Championships, April 19-21.

Upcoming schedule

Tuesday, April 16
Baseball hosts Louisville - 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 17
Softball at Middle Tennessee State (DH) - 4:00 p.m.
Women's tennis vs. LSU - 3:00 p.m. (Starkville, Miss.)

Thursday, April 18
Men's tennis vs. Mississippi State - 7:00 p.m. (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

Friday, April 19
Softball at Arkansas - 7:00 p.m.
Baseball at South Carolina - 7:00 p.m.
Men's golf at SEC Championship (St. Simon's, Ga.)
Women's golf at SEC Championship (Birmingham, Ala.)
Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

Saturday, April 20
Track and field hosts Heart of the Bluegrass Classic - 10:00 a.m.
Softball at Arkansas - 1:00 p.m.
Baseball at South Carolina - 3:00 p.m.
Men's golf at SEC Championship (St.Simon's, Ga.)
Women's golf at SEC Championship (Birmingham, Ala.)
Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

Sunday, April 21
Baseball at South Carolina - 1:30 p.m.
Softball at Arkansas - 2:00 p.m.
Men's golf at SEC Championship (St.Simon's, Ga.)
Women's golf at SEC Championship (Birmingham, Ala.)
Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

The Grand Opening ceremony of John Cropp Stadium was held pregame on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) The Grand Opening Ceremony of John Cropp Stadium was held pregame on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
"Let's go give this stadium and ESPN a show it deserves."

That was the direct quote from head coach Rachel Lawson while wrapping up her pregame ceremonial speech before the UK softball team went out and bested the third-ranked Florida Gators, 4-2 in front of a season-high 1,206 fans.

The ribbons have been cut and the banners have been dropped as the UK Softball Complex was reintroduced as the new John Cropp Stadium on Saturday on a day that will never be forgotten for the UK softball program.

The Wildcats gave exactly what ESPN deserved alright and showed the nation what UK softball is all about.

"The atmosphere was great," Lawson said. "The fans were into the game they loved it. I thought both teams played really hard and there were a lot of really exciting plays. I don't think we could have asked for a better game from us. I thought the whole thing was an incredible day for us."

Kelsey Nunley starred on the mound, tossing a complete game as she set the school single-season wins record with 20. It was Krystal Smith who a bulk of UK's damage at the plate two hits and three runs batted in, including a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Before the upset win, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, Lawson and stadium namesake Associate Athletics Director John Cropp all spoke at the podium. The day has come where UK softball boasts one of the top facilities in all of college softball. There was a time where some thought it might never happen. That includes Cropp, who has been a large part of the program since its existence.

"I can remember our very first practice that took place in Woodland Park," Cropp said. "We didn't even have a field on this campus. Our first coach, she can remember well going over to Woodland Park and practicing softball. That was a long time ago but I don't think either one of us ever envisioned us being here today."

Lawson is in her sixth year as the head coach and what she has done since her time at UK has grabbed everyone's attention.

Barnhart noted that there are times when programs build a facility to increase performance and help gain a winning reputation and there are other times when teams are able to produce with what they have and are rewarded for their achievements.

That's exactly what Lawson has done in her tenure and she is now getting recognition for her accomplishments. Six years later, she owns the school's all-time wins record and has taken UK to unprecedented heights.

"We need to thank her for the five straight NCAA appearances and the college Super Regional that we hosted two years ago that gave us the ability to do these kinds of things and build this facility," Barnhart said. "To have 2,000 people in here on national television, gave our program the visibility we have not had."

Lawson's success has garnered attention from other schools during her time at UK. There was a point where she was interviewing elsewhere for jobs which, at the time, had better softball facilities than UK.

There was a day a few years back when Lawson remembers speaking to Barnhart on the phone about what this program needed to become among the best. Barnhart promised Lawson they would provide her with a new stadium and he stayed true to his word. Lawson decided to remain at UK and according to her, the stadium actually came a year before than expected.

"(Barnhart) actually did it a year earlier than he said he was going to do it," Lawson said. "To be around people who actually not only say things but actually come through with what they say they are going to do, that's exceptional and that's very special to me because we live in a world where not very many people come through with their promises. I will never forget that day so that's very special to me."

Lawson took time to thank multiple people, including Barnhart, Cropp, former UK president Lee Todd, current UK president Dr. Eli Capilouto and the rest of the athletic department. She also gave thanks to her associate head coach Kristine Himes and assistant coach Molly Johnson, who have both been with Lawson for every win at UK either as a coach or in Johnson's case as a player as well.

But Lawson gave special thanks to the Big Blue Nation, because without the fans, alumni and current players, Saturday's celebration would have never taken place.

"You can build an incredible stadium and I can't be more thankful for this stadium, but this stadium is only worth the people that are in it and work for it every single day," Lawson said. "The Big Blue Nation is awesome. We are one of the few softball programs in the country in that we had a large fan base prior to the new stadium.

"I think that's great that they are going to have some place where they can sit and see a game because each year we are putting up temporary bleachers. Not only do we fill those seats up but we have had to build more and more and more until we had 2,000 people at Super Regionals. So I have to thank the Big Blue Nation because without you we would not have this stadium."

The stadium is going to do some great things for the softball program. The obvious thing is it will enhance the recruiting and will give players and fans an atmosphere that they deserve for SEC softball.

However, what the new facilities bring is the ability for the players to become complete student-athletes and give them a home away from home where they can feel comfortable. Not only did the program get a new stadium, but a new locker room and hitting practice area is being constructed down the third-base foul area.

Lawson takes pride in her student-athletes' work on the field and just as importantly in the classroom. She wants the Cats to become great off the field when they leave UK. Lawson says the new locker room will give her players a place for them to go after class to study, practice, eat and then go home to get a good night's rest.

Barnhart appreciates the efforts Lawson has had on the made but he notices what she does in the community and the example she sets for the players for them to become the best human beings as possible.

"She has given a lot of young women in this community the dream that they can play in a place like this in a league like this," Barnhart said. "Maybe just maybe you get to the College World Series in Oklahoma City. On the way she has done an amazing job that her kids do a great job in the classroom."

This entire project took a lot of hard work from several different people. It's been a long process but it's now time to take the next step in UK softball history.

Cropp capped off the opening ceremony with the last speech of the three and he emphasized UK softball would not be here today without the leadership of the two standing right there next to him: Barnhart and Lawson.

"Athletics is a team, and it took the whole team to put this together," Cropp said. "But what else you have to have in athletics and life is leadership and the real reason we are here today doing this is because of the two people here standing beside me. They are the ones to make this happen."
 

Video: Grand opening of John Cropp Stadium

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Head coach Rachel Lawson recorded her school-record 182nd career victory in the Wildcats' 6-2 win over Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Head coach Rachel Lawson recorded her school-record 182nd career victory in the Wildcats' 6-2 win over Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
This weekend will mark a monumental moment for the Kentucky softball program. Not only do the Wildcats welcome the third-ranked Florida Gators, but the Grand Opening Ceremony of the newly renovated UK Softball Complex is set to precede Saturday's 1 p.m. ET game.

Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. with pregame festivities slated to begin at 11:45. Athletic's Director Mitch Barnhart, head coach Rachel Lawson and select others will be speaking to officially open the new stadium.

Six years ago Barnhart hired Lawson as UK's new softball coach. Since Lawson's arrival, the program has made major strides and now the athletic department is rewarding the hard work of the coaches and players by providing them a brand-new playing atmosphere.

This is a big moment in UK softball history and Lawson is the first to recognize who is responsible for it all and give thanks.

"First you have to thank the Big Blue Nation," Lawson said. "If we didn't have the fan support and the financial support you would never see an amazing stadium like this going up. You have to thank everybody who works so hard in the athletic department to make these things possible."  

Of course Lawson wouldn't be a part of this weekend's celebration had she not been hired back in July 2007. It was Barnhart's decision, but there was another member of the athletic department who played a key role in the process.

"You have to thank Mitch but you have to thank (associate athletic's director) John Cropp for hiring me," Lawson said. "Mitch ultimately made the decision but Coach Cropp was the one that went out and believed in me."

On Wednesday, the Wildcats traveled to Frankfort, Ky., to compete in a doubleheader against Eastern Kentucky. UK took the opener 6-2, giving Lawson her school-record 182nd career victory.

Lawson, who is humbled by the whole experience, is always striving for more and is looking for ways she can improve the program.

However, she did take a moment after to sit back and take it all in.

"It's really cool," Lawson said. "You never stop and think about what you accomplish you only keep moving forward. It was a brief moment in time where I got to stop and I got to think about all the people that helped me get here."

Associate head coach Kristine Himes has been with Lawson since day one at UK and Lawson says she wouldn't be where she is today without her. Lawson also took time to thank the athletic department and all the players that helped rack up the record amount of victories.

A few minutes was enough time for Lawson to think about breaking the record as she quickly turned her focus back to the future goals of the program.

"That's a cool moment, with that said I know we all want a national championship," Lawson said. "While the wins are incredible and it's good to get to that point, it will be even better when we move forward. Every team at Kentucky, our goal should be to win the SEC and to win national championships, that's what we all do. Once you get there and you have one, you're going to want another and another."

Fans should be in for a treat this weekend with the Gators coming into town. Florida is an impressive 39-4 on the season and 12-3 in conference play, but the Cats are having a tremendous season themselves and have no reason to back down.

With the 18th-ranked Wildcats sitting at 8-4 in SEC play, a series win over the Gators would give them loads of confidence heading forward. Lawson knows her Wildcats have a huge challenge in front of them but also realizes it's a great opportunity for them to make a statement.

"It's going to be quite a challenge," Lawson said. "With that said, us and Florida are usually good games. They are usually played hard and played clean and usually they are good television games. Hopefully that will continue this weekend and we can get some wins."

When Lawson was brought in to lead the Wildcats back in '07, one of the things on the top of the athletic department's list was to build the softball team a new facility. The opening of the stadium hasn't been a major shock for Lawson, however the dedication and pace that everything has come together has really taken the sixth-year head coach by surprise.

"I knew it would be coming but for it to be coming so soon and in such a huge fashion has been such a huge surprise for me," Lawson said. "Everything that we have asked for is actually happening. They have gone top rate with everything in here. It's going to one of the best if not the best facility in the country."

Join UK Athletics for a Big Blue Weekend

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 You better throw all your Kentucky gear in the laundry right now, because you're going to need every clean piece of blue clothing you can find.

This weekend, the UK campus will be buzzing with activity, highlighted by the Blue/White Spring Game at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. But that's far from the only opportunity fans will have to cheer on the Wildcats this weekend. With upwards of 10 events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday across five different sports, it's going to be a Big Blue Weekend.

Let's take a look at your options (all times Eastern):

Friday, April 12 (Forecast: High of 55 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain)
4 p.m. - Women's tennis vs. No. 2 Florida (Boone Tennis Complex)
6 p.m. - Softball vs. No. 3 Florida (UK Softball Complex)
6:30 p.m. - Baseball vs. Tennessee (Cliff Hagan Stadium)

There's a fair bit of overlap here, but you can make it to doubles play and at least the start of singles at the tennis match before making a short trek north or south to baseball or softball.

Saturday, April 13 (Forecast: Sunny with a high of 57 degrees, zero percent chance of rain)
11:30 a.m. - UK Softball Complex grand opening
1 p.m. - Softball vs. No. 3 Florida (UK Softball Complex)
2 p.m. - Baseball vs. Tennessee (Cliff Hagan Stadium)
4 p.m. - Wildcat Refuge opens (Gate 9 of Commonwealth Stadium)
5 p.m. - Men's soccer spring game vs. Lipscomb (UK Soccer Complex)
5 p.m. - Alumni Association tailgate (Commonwealth Stadium Red Lot, near Gate 4)
5:15 p.m. - Cat Walk (Gate 1 of Commonwealth Stadium)
7 p.m. - Blue/White Spring Game (Commonwealth Stadium)

Does that give you enough to do on a Saturday?

No matter what, start your day at the grand opening of the UK Softball Complex at 11:30 a.m. Refreshments will be available and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and head coach Rachel Lawson will speak at the ceremony. From there, you can either stick around for the softball game, head to baseball or some combination of the two.

The baseball game still figures to be going on when pre-spring game festivities begin, but you should have plenty of time to tailgate and maybe even make it to the Cat Walk if you stick around for the end of the game at Cliff Hagan. Gates open at Commonwealth at 6 p.m.

All parking for the spring game is free. A portion of the Green Lot will be reserved, but the remainder is available on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition, a shuttle will be available for those wishing to park at Commonwealth and receive transportation to Keeneland and back to the stadium. For complete information on the spring game, visit our Gameday Central page.

Spring game tickets have been distributed at a record rate, but seats are still available online.

Sunday, April 14 (Forecast: Mostly sunny with a high of 63 degrees, zero percent chance of rain)
Noon - Softball vs. No. 3 Florida (UK Softball Complex)
Noon - Women's tennis vs. No. 27 South Carolina (Boone Tennis Complex)
1 p.m. - Baseball vs. Tennessee (Cliff Hagan Stadium)

After a long Saturday, these three events offer a chance to relax outside on what is expected to be a warm, sunny day.

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Ginny Carroll's walk-off bases loaded single in the bottom of the seventh, led the Cats to a 4-3 victory over Marshall on Tuesday. (Brittany McIntosh, UK Athletics) Ginny Carroll's walk-off bases loaded single in the bottom of the seventh, led the Cats to a 4-3 victory over Marshall on Tuesday. (Brittany McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Tough.

It's been a characteristic of the University of Kentucky softball team's 2013 success. And the Wildcats showed off just how tough they are once again Tuesday evening with a bases-loaded walk-off single from junior outfielder Ginny Carroll to earn a 4-3 victory over a pesky Marshall team at the UK Softball Complex.

"It was awesome," Carroll said. "That's one thing Coach (Rachel Lawson) has been getting on us about is being tough. I think we really showed it tonight and didn't give up."

UK came back twice in the game, scoring a run in the bottom of the fourth to tie the contest at 1-all and plating three in the bottom of the seventh to win after the Thundering Herd took a 3-1 advantage in the top of the final frame.

The game looked as though it may have been decided after Marshall took a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh and senior hurler Andi Williamson dealing a gem. However, the Cats used a never-say-die mentality with the help of a couple Marshall errors and key hits, including the game-winner from Carroll to come out on top.

Carroll struggled in her first three at-bats but saved her best for last. The Hendersonville, Tenn., native says Lawson tells the Cats in practice that she doesn't care if they only get one hit, so long as they contribute and are doing their jobs.

She certainly did her job on Tuesday and with the pressure on. The Wildcats had one out in the inning with the bags packed, a full count on Carroll and the score tied at three.

Carroll's plan at the plate on the last pitch was simple.

"Since it was a full count I was just looking to protect," Carroll said. "Go after anything I could drive and then let it go if it was a ball. She was a great pitcher and we did a good job of hanging tough with her."

Marshall came into the evening sporting a 25-13 record and having won 15 of its last 16 contests. The Herd featured Williamson in the circle, who leads the country in strike outs and innings pitched and an offense that leads the Conference USA.

Head coach Rachel Lawson was pleased overall with her team's performance. She knows they didn't play their best game of the year but saw something out of her Wildcats that she has seen all season.

That word again. Tough.

"Obviously, the seventh inning we showed how tough we were and that has been a theme for us throughout the entire year," Lawson said. "I thought (Kelsey) Nunley had a good performance on the mound again. I think there were some things we could have done better but Marshall is a really good team. They are one of the best teams in the Conference USA and the best offensive team and for Nunley to keep them down was big for us."

With the victory, head coach Rachel Lawson tied the UK record with her 181st win at Kentucky. In just her sixth season, Lawson has taken the program to new heights and has the 28-10 Wildcats off to one of the best starts in history.

Kentucky travels to Frankfort, Ky., on Wednesday for a twin bill against in state foe Eastern Kentucky. Tomorrow will be a golden opportunity for Lawson to break the school's wins record, but the sixth-year head coach has bigger goals on her mind for this year and the future of the softball program.

"My goal is always to win softball games," Lawson said. "I don't really know that much about the records and such here. Our goal is to get to the (Women's College) World Series so that means we have to continue to win to do it and hopefully my teams will break a lot of records here over the years."

Recent Comments

  • Silviu Udrea: Huge fan !!! Keep going on :) read more
  • JR: Erin is one dedicated player of the game of softball.......and it would be hard to find anyone who has worked read more
  • Commenter: Both Derick and Dominique should watch Willie's game 3 years back. Compared to what Caulistain then these two players are read more
  • Patrick Quinn: I've always liked Willis...we will need him getting significant minutes during our run..I have faith in his athletic ability...I remember read more
  • Robert Sutherland: I Love Dakari both as a player with that great smile, personality, and his support for his teammates...and I love read more
  • Helen Spalding: Congrats Makayla and team. We love you here in Marion County and just "proud as punch" of you and your read more
  • conley salyer: We love you and the women's team,Janee. Our five year old grandson attends every home game, knows your names and read more
  • Sandy: I was watching the game on TV when it happened. I got a little teary eyed just watching it. I read more
  • Katbluefan: Any time the Cats play away it's the other team's "Big" game and they sell out house and play their read more
  • David: 6-30 from the field (including a blown layup by Aaron in regulation) and 6-10 from the FT line (including 2 read more