No. 13/18 Kentucky Opens 2012 Campaign at UCLA

Feb. 7, 2012

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Rachel Lawson the No. 13/18 Kentucky softball team will open the 2012 campaign on the road at the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament on the campus of No. 19/13 UCLA. UK will take on the Bruins to open the season on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.

This marks the third consecutive season the Blue and White will begin its season on the road against a ranked opponent. UK knocked off No. 22 Ohio State a season ago and No. 5 Arizona State in 2010.

Kentucky returns 15 letter winners from its record-breaking 40-win squad from a season ago headlined by the senior pitching tandem of Rachel Riley and Chanda Bell. Riley has been tabbed a preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection and is among the 50 players to watch for the National Player of the Year award. Bell is the lone Wildcat to amass more than 700 strikeouts in a career with more than 200 thrown in each of her first three seasons.

Senior Brittany Cervantes paces the offensive unit as Kentucky's all-time best home run hitter with 35 long balls in her career. Cervantes is also on pace to shatter the UK career record for RBI. Junior Kara Dill is back as well after leading the Wildcats a season ago in batting average and stolen bases.

UK attained a top-25 ranking in both major polls for the first time in school history after capping its historic 2011 run in the top 13.

The No. 19/13 UCLA Bruins are entering the season with high expectations as usual, as the Bruins are ranked nationally in both major polls. UCLA returns 14 members from its 2011 squad, including Andrea Harrison who hit at a .409 clip a year ago. Leading the Bruins in the circle will be Jessica Hall, who is fresh off a year which saw her pitch 137.2 innings with a 2.59 ERA. The Bruins will be once again BE managed by Kelly Inoune-Perrez who is in her 19th year at the school and sixth at the helm of the program.

Pacific enters the year following a 2011 season which saw the Tigers go 37-19, with a 16-5 Big West Conference record, which was good enough for the Big West Conference Championship to reside in Stockton. The Tigers return 11 players from a year ago, and will be managed by 20th-year head coach Brian Kolze who has accumulated more than 580 wins in his career in the Black and Gold.

Live stats for each of Kentucky's contests while in Los Angeles will be available on both the UCLA and Kentucky athletic web pages.

Follow along with the UK softball program all season long at UKathletics.com.