Softball Begins 12th Season in Las Vegas

Feb. 12, 2009

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The University of Kentucky will open their 12th season of softball with a five-game tournament in Las Vegas at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic on Friday. UK will play Oregon to open the season and then follow that with a night-time contest against Hawaii.

During the five-game tournament Kentucky will face two ranked opponents in DePaul and top-five ranked UCLA. The squad's opening day opponents, Oregon and Hawaii, are both receiving votes in the polls to open the year.

Head Coach Rachel Lawson in her second season at the helm and will take a mix of 10 letterwinners and 10 freshmen into one of the toughest schedules in the nation, including a brutal opening weekend. The Wildcats are led by junior shortstop Molly Johnson who was simply sensational in her sophomore season. She led the team in nearly every offensive category while rocketing up UK's record books in several categories. Johnson has started a team-high 105 consecutive games. Three players earned All-SEC status in 2008. Johnson was a second-team All-SEC selection. Sophomores Meagan Aull and Megan Yocke were All-SEC Freshman team members.

UK has opened all 12 seasons on the road. They are 4-7 all-time in opening games, but have won three consecutive openers. A year ago UK went 2-0 to open the year with wins over Wichita State and UT-Chattanooga.

The Blue and White are the final team in the Southeastern Conference to open play in the 2009 season. Only No. 3 Alabama came out unscathed after the first weekend of play, going 4-0 to open the year. No. 1 Florida dropped a 1-0 decision to Baylor for their lone loss of the opening few games.

Kentucky kicks off their 2009 campaign against Oregon. The Ducks and Wildcats have met once prior to this season's upcoming match-up. Oregon won the only meeting in 2003. The Wildcats and the Rainbow Wahine will meet on the diamond for the second consecutive season. UK traveled to Hawai'i a season-ago for two match-ups. They were the first ever meetings between the two squads and Hawai'i took both meetings for a 2-0 series edge.

Saturday's games feature DePaul and UCLA. Kentucky and DePaul have met on two prior occasions in softball history. The series is split 1-1. The two teams first met in UK's inaugural season in 1997 and again in 2005. This will be the first ever overall meeting between Kentucky and the 11-time National Champion Bruins.

On Sunday, UK will wrap up the tournament playing the host squad UNLV. Kentucky and UNLV have met once prior on the softball field. The Running Rebels' secured a victory in 2006 over the Blue and White.

Complete coverage of the UK softball team can be found at www.ukathletics.com.