Softball Finalizes 2015 Spring Schedule
2015 Softball Schedule (PDF)
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky softball head coach Rachel Lawson has announced Kentucky’s 2015 spring schedule, including 21 home games at John Cropp Stadium – the Sports Turf Management Association’s 2014 Collegiate Softball Field of the Year.
After a program-best 50 wins and advancing to the school’s first Women’s College World Series last season, Kentucky is looking for similar success with an equally challenging schedule in 2015. The Wildcats will play 32 non-conference games against some of the best teams in the nation on top of 24 conference games in the always challenging Southeastern Conference.
Kentucky is scheduled to play 40 games (71% of its schedule) vs. teams that finished the 2014 season ranked in the top 100 of the NCAA RPI, including 34 games (61% of its schedule) vs. top 60 RPI teams and 28 (50% of schedule) vs. top 35 RPI teams. Based on the final ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 last season, Kentucky will play 27 games vs. teams either ranked or receiving votes, including the Nos. 1, 2, 4, 7, 11, 12, 14, 21 and 22 teams.
Kentucky ended the 2014 season ranked sixth in both the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 – its highest final rankings in program history. The rankings put the final stamp on the winningest season in UK softball history. Kentucky started the season with 12 consecutive wins, marking the longest winning streak in school history and the best start to a season in program history.
The Wildcats ended the season by making the most successful run in program history in two of the game's most prestigious tournaments. UK advanced to the championship game of the SEC Tournament in early May before winning the NCAA Lexington Regional and NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional to advance to the WCWS. All told, UK defeated a school-record 15 ranked teams in 2014, including six wins over top-10 teams. In Lawson’s seven years, UK has defeated a school record 55 top-25 teams.
"The success of our program can be attributed to several things, including the challenging schedule we put together every year,” Lawson said. “Our student-athletes know that to be successful in conference and postseason play we need to challenge ourselves in non-conference games early on and this schedule accomplishes that. The team has used last year's trip to the WCWS as motivation to get back and we cannot wait to get started in early February."
The season will get started in Tallahassee, Fla., when Kentucky opens up with a true road game at Florida A&M on Thursday, Feb. 5. The season opener will be followed by the Renegade Classic, which is hosted by 2014 WCWS participant Florida State on Feb. 7-8. The Wildcats will play two games vs. Florida State and Georgia Southern during the event. FSU ended 2014 ranked seventh nationally in both collegiate softball rankings, while GSU went 35-21 overall and had a top-60 RPI.
Kentucky will stay in the south the following weekend and play five games in the Phyllis Rafter Memorial Invitational hosted by Kennesaw State. The Wildcats will start the three-day tournament Feb. 13 with games against Southern Illinois and Morehead State, before playing Kennesaw State and IUPUI the following the day. UK will conclude the tournament with a bracket game – depending on previous results – on Sunday, Feb. 15.
UK’s lone trip out west this season will involve some tough tests as the Wildcats will play six games in three days in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, which is one of the nation’s most premiere early season tournaments. The event begins Feb. 19 for the Wildcats, who will play Arizona and Long Beach State day one before battling LIU Brooklyn and Oregon State the next day. UK’s last day in the event will feature a showdown with 2013 national champions and 2014 WCWS participant Oklahoma, before ending the event with San Diego State.
Kentucky’s final early season tournament is the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Wildcats will play five games in three days, starting Feb. 27 vs. Tennessee Tech and Wright State, before facing Purdue and Chattanooga the following day. The Wildcats will conclude the tournament vs. Belmont on March 1.
As the calendar turns to March the Wildcats will turn their focus to conference play, featuring four three-game road series vs. Texas A&M (March 6-8), Auburn (March 20-22), Florida (April 11-13) and Tennessee (May 1-3). Kentucky will host four three-game home sets in conference play vs. LSU (March 27-29), Alabama (April 3-5), South Carolina (April 17-19) and Georgia (April 24-26). Every conference team on the schedule in 2015 finished last season ranked in the top 35 of the NCAA RPI.
Mixed between the weekend SEC series will be non-conference battles against quality opponents. UK will have two-game sets with EKU, Louisville, Ohio and Florida Atlantic, and single-game sets with Indiana, Marshall and WKU. Kentucky’s home opener will be against EKU on March 11, while returning a trip to Richmond, Ky., on April 15. UK’s annual home-and-home set with Louisville starts April 1 at UL before an April 21 battle in Lexington. The Wildcats will face Ohio during its SEC bye weekend March 14-15 and host a doubleheader with FAU on April 6. UK’s final non-conference game will be April 22 vs. WKU in Lexington.
The 2015 SEC Tournament will be held in Baton Rouge, La., from May 6-9, with NCAA Regionals starting May 14 at various locations around the country. NCAA Super Regionals will be May 21-24 with the 2015 WCWS running from May 28 to June 3 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.
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