Kentucky Softball Announces 2016 Schedule


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky softball team under the direction of ninth-year head coach Rachel Lawson announced its 2016 schedule on Thursday afternoon, featuring 28 games against NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, 10 games against teams that competed at the 2015 Women’s College World Series, and 18 games in front of the Big Blue Nation at John Cropp Stadium.

Kentucky is coming off its fourth appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals in the past five seasons, after the Wildcats were crowned champions of the 2015 South Bend Regional with wins over Northwestern, Ball State and Notre Dame to capture the regional crown. 

UK’s season will begin with a 21-game road trip with stops in Tempe, Ariz., San Diego, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Rock Hill, S.C., for four different tournaments. The Wildcats will open their season on Feb. 12 at the Kajikawa Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish before facing Oregon State later that night in the nightcap. Also in Tempe, UK will face Oregon, who advanced to the Women’s College World Series, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona State, who reached the NCAA Regional Finals a year ago.

Kentucky will then make a short 400-mile trip west to San Diego for the 2016 Campbell/Cartier Classic hosted by the San Diego State Aztecs from Feb. 18-20. UK will face SDSU, and California, who both made the NCAA Regional Finals last season, as well as San Diego University, South Dakota and Texas Tech.

Chattanooga, Tenn., will serve as the next destination for the Wildcats as they will play five games in three days as part of the 2016 Chattanooga Frost Classic from Feb. 26-28. Chattanooga, who won the SoCon a year ago and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, will face UK on Feb. 27 sandwiched between games against Lipscomb, Miami (OH), Eastern Illinois and Evansville. 

The final leg of UK’s road trip to open the season will be in the Palmetto State as Kentucky travels to Rock Hill, S.C., for the 2016 Winthrop Invitational from March 4-6. UK faces Winthrop, the tournament hosts, twice in addition to playing NCAA Tournament contenders and 2015 Patriot League Champions, Lehigh, Albany and UNC-Charlotte. 

March 9 at 6 p.m. will serve as opening night for John Cropp Stadium in 2016 against border rivals Indiana.  Last season, behind a gem from Indiana native Erin Rethlake, the Wildcats beat the Hoosiers 4-1 in Lexington, and will be looking for three-straight wins in the border series. 

Kentucky will open its 24-game, eight-team Southeastern Conference schedule in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, March 11 against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Following a road game at Marshall on March 16 in Huntington, W. Va., the Wildcats will open its home slate of SEC games on March 18 as UK hosts the Ole Miss Rebels for a three-game series, which kicks off a six-game homestand, the longest of the season. March 22 and 23, UK will step out of conference to play in-state foes Northern Kentucky (DH, March 22) and Murray State (March 23) before continuing the SEC schedule with a trip to Arkansas for a three-game series from March 25-27. 

Kentucky will host Auburn, who advanced to its first Women’s College World Series in program history a season ago, at John Cropp Stadium the first three days of April, which will mark the halfway mark of the SEC season. Kentucky will once again play a home-and-home with the Louisville Cardinals in 2016, with UofL visiting Lexington on April 6 at 6 p.m. ET before the Wildcats return the trip on April 27 in the Derby City with first pitch slated for 6 p.m. ET in that contest as well.

April 9-11 will serve as Kentucky’s only Saturday-Monday series of the season, as the Wildcats head to the Bayou to face LSU, who competed in the 2015 Women’s College World Series. Monday night’s game against the Tigers will be the center of the SEC Network’s “Monday Night Showcase” with the game shown live at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network, WatchESPN and ESPN3.

After stepping out of conference for a home game with Eastern Kentucky, Lawson and Co. welcome the Missouri Tigers to Lexington April 15-17 to cap off a four-game homestand. Missouri counts as three of 17 games that UK will play against teams that advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals from 2015.

Regional finalists and 2015 Conference USA Champion, Western Kentucky will host UK in Bowling Green on April 20 before the Wildcats travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a three-game set with the Alabama Crimson Tide from April 22-24. Last time UK visited Tuscaloosa in 2014, Kentucky came away with it’s first-ever series win against the Tide on the road.

The final SEC series of the season and regular season capper will be at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington on May 6, 7 and 8 against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. 

Mississippi State will host the 2016 SEC Tournament at newly-renovated MSU Softball Field from May 11-14, with all games being shown live on the SEC Network, ESPN and ESPN2. 

ESPN, its regional networks and the SEC Network will be making its game selections shortly, and following that, times for SEC weekends will be set by the league office. 

The NCAA Tournament will kick off with 16 regional sites from May 19-22 before eight Super Regional sites are announced for May 26-29 to determine the eight teams that will compete in the 2016 Women’s College World Series.

The WCWS will be June 2-8 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., and will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. 

For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.