Softball Earns Seventh Straight NCAA Tournament Bid
2015 NCAA Bracket
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the seventh consecutive season the University of Kentucky softball team has received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament with the selection committee placing Kentucky as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA South Bend Regional, it was announced Sunday.
The double-elimination regional, which features four teams in No. 16 national seed Notre Dame, Kentucky, Northwestern and Ball State, will run Friday through Sunday at Melissa Cook Stadium in South Bend, Ind. Kentucky's tournament run will start against Northwestern at 2 p.m. ET on Friday before Ball State and Notre Dame conclude the night at 5 p.m. ET. This is the first time since 2012 that Kentucky has not been a top-16 national seed and hosted a regional. A complete schedule of events is listed below.
This is the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in school history for Kentucky, becoming one of just 21 teams in the nation to claim that honor. UK made its first showing in the tournament in 2009 and went 2-2 in the tournament that season in the Columbus Regional before returning to the Columbus Regional in 2010. Kentucky won all three of its games in the 2011 Ann Arbor Regional to advance to a Super Regional for the first time in school history. The Wildcats hosted the Super Regional that season, dropping a best-of-three set to highly ranked Cal. UK went 1-2 in the Louisville Regional in 2012, while it hosted a regional for the first time in program history in 2013 and advanced to the NCAA Tempe Super Regional.
Last season, Kentucky had the most successful tournament run in program history, hosting a regional and defeating Ohio, James Madison and DePaul to punch its second straight ticket to a NCAA Super Regional. The Wildcats kept the tournament run alive against highly ranked UCLA, winning two of three games vs. the Bruins to advance to the 2014 Women's College World Series. It was UK's first ever appearance in the WCWS, where it went 1-2. All tournament appearances have come under Lawson.
The Wildcats are one of 11 Southeastern Conference teams to earn a bid into the tournament. Each of the last two years the SEC has placed 11 teams into the event. The SEC has more teams in the tournament than any other conference.
Kentucky enters the event with a 29-24 record after facing the second-toughest schedule in the nation according to the latest NCAA RPI. The Wildcats played 53 games this season, including 26 against top-25 RPI teams and 35 against top-50 RPI teams. UK played 27 straight games against top-50 RPI teams and haven't played a team outside the top 50 since March 18. UK only has one loss this season against a team ranked outside the top 50.
UK is No. 23 in the NCAA RPI, moving back one spot from last week's ranking. UK has 12 wins this season against top-50 RBI teams. The Wildcats are No. 24 in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 and No. 25 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/USA Today Top 25. Kentucky has defeated six ranked foes this season, including five that were ranked top 10 at the time UK played them. UK has two wins over then-No. 1 LSU and a victory over then-No. 5 Alabama. The Wildcats have also defeated then-No. 5 Florida State, then-No. 10 Arizona and then-No. 21 Texas A&M.
The regional is a double-elimination format, with the winner advancing to a super regional against the winner of the Gainesville Regional, which includes No. 1 seed Florida and Hostra, Florida Atlantic and Florida A&M. The Super Regional, slated for May 21-24, is a best two-out-of-three format with the winner advancing to the eight-team Women's College World Series, scheduled for May 28-June 3 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
For the latest on UK softball, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter and Instagram or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
South Bend Regional - May 15-17 - Melissa Cook Stadium - South Bend, Ind.
Notre Dame (40-13)
Ball State (33-23)
NCAA South Bend Regional Schedule
Friday, May 15
Game 1 -- Northwestern vs. Kentucky -- 2 p.m. ET
Game 2 -- Ball State vs. Notre Dame -- 5 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 16
Game 3 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - Noon ET
Game 4 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 - 3 p.m. ET
Game 5 - Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 - 6 p.m. ET
Sunday, May 17
Game 6 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 -1 p.m. ET
Game 7 - (If necessary) - 4 p.m. ET