LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the first time in school history, the University of Kentucky softball team has been selected as a national seed and host school for the NCAA Softball Tournament, which will get underway Friday night at 5 p.m. ET at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
The double-elimination regional, which features four teams in Kentucky, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Marshall, will run Friday through Sunday at John Cropp Stadium. Kentucky's tournament run will start against Marshall at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday after Notre Dame and Virginia Tech begin the night at 5 p.m. ET. All games of the Lexington Regional will be on ESPN3.com.
Kentucky's games over the weekend can be heard live on the UK/IMG Sports Radio Network with Dick Gabriel, Jenny Hill and Christi Thomas calling the action. Friday and Saturday's games can be heard live in Lexington on 105.5 WWRW-FM. If Kentucky advances to Sunday, the games will air on 630 WLAP-AM in Lexington.
A complete schedule of events and ticket information is posted below. All-session passes and single-session passes are on-sale now. All-session reserved seating is $30, while all-session general admission passes are $20. Single-session tickets are $15 for reserved seating (all ages), while single-session general admission tickets for adults (ages 19-64) are $10 and single-session general admission tickets for youth/seniors (ages 2-18, 65+) are $8. Children ages 1 and under will be admitted free of charge.
All-session and single-session tickets may be purchased in advance: • online through My UK Account • by calling the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818 • by ordering in person at the UK Ticket Office in the Joe Craft Center
Single-session tickets are also available on-site at John Cropp Stadium starting on Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm, based on availability. All ticket sales at the stadium are CASH ONLY. The ticket booth at John Cropp Stadium will open two hours prior to the first game each day.
Lexington Regional - May 17-19 - John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky (38-18) Notre Dame (43-13) Virginia Tech (35-19) Marshall (35-20)
NCAA Lexington Regional Schedule Friday, May 17 Game 1 - Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech - 5 p.m. ET (ESPN3) Game 2 - Kentucky vs. Marshall - 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Saturday, May 18 Game 3 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 1 p.m. ET (ESPN3) Game 4 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3) Game 5 - Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 - 6 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Sunday, May 19 Game 6 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 -1 p.m. ET (ESPN3) Game 7 - (If necessary) -3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
More information: For more information on the NCAA Lexington Regional, visit the tournament central page here: www.ukathletics.com/ncaasoftball.
Kentucky Softball Media Opportunity - Pre-NCAA Regionals Head Coach Rachel Lawson On what it means to the program to host a NCAA Regional ... "It's a big step for the program because in order to host a regional you have to be a national seed in softball so the fact that we are considered one of the top 16 teams in the country is a big step for us. This is our fifth straight regional but this is the first time we have been a national seed and you have to earn your way into that."
On Marshall's pitcher Andi Williamson ... "Marshall's pitcher is outstanding. She throws hard, she does a good job on the inside and outside part of the plate, she has a good off-speed pitch and then she can come up with a pretty strong rise ball. She keeps a batter off balance and I think she leads the NCAA in innings pitched so she is strong and she has proven that she can be out there. Marshall also has a very fast team, they like to slap and run, bunt and run so they are a really exciting team to watch. It's going to be crucial to keep them off the bases and when they are we have to make sure we contain them."
On having a second chance to play on the big stage in UK's new stadium ... "I think they were shocked. Last week was the first time we had played in that setting here so I think that was a great experience for our younger kids and I don't think they knew what to expect. I think they understood and I think they were very disappointed in their performance last week and they are looking for another opportunity to prove that they are one of the best teams in the country."
On the disappointing SEC Tournament loss ... "We just didn't swing the bat. I think they were real tentative to pull the trigger and that's a big part of our game is we have a good offense and we are strong and the fact that we didn't do that really put us on our heels and I think because of that we didn't pitch great. Nunley certainly did okay but every pitcher throws better when they have some runs behind them. I think the fact that our offense was so lackluster really slowed us down."
On how this weekend compares to Super Regionals two years ago ... "It's totally different. Super Regionals was really cool because it was the first time that we had such an amazing crowd at Kentucky. We had always played in big crowds but they usually had a different school's color so the very first time we walked out on the field it was the first time we had seen a sea of Kentucky blue. That was very special and you can never take back from that but to be able to host a regional here in a brand new stadium, probably one of the best in the country, I know that we will have an equally impressive showing. I think they are both impressive but they were both really cool. I don't think you can ever replace the first time. That was pretty cool."
On Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Marshall ... "We have a very tough region. Everybody in here is strong, everybody has good pitching. Notre Dame won the regular season Big East and they are anchored by a senior and they have one of the best hitters in the country who is there leadoff batter, they are very strong. Virginia Tech had been in the top-25 a lot of the beginning of the year so they are a very strong team too and play in the ACC that has strong hitters and pitchers. They will be ready for a team like ours and then Marshall is a very good team as well. I think we have one of the toughest regions in the country."
On the importance of staying in the winner's bracket ... "Oh it's crucial. Certainly teams can come from behind that has definitely happened before but anytime you can stay in the winner's bracket, No. 1 that means your pitchers are fresh and that keeps the crowd coming back and that's more of a confidence booster. It's not a huge tournament, all the teams here can certainly come back from that but you want to stay in the winner's bracket."
On what UK needs to do to advance through this weekend ... "We are going to have to do a good job offensively. I think we are going to have to attack good pitches. I think that we have to be strong and then I think we have to execute, put the ball in play, hit behind runners, bunt, do all those things you need to do because every pitcher is good. Then I think we have to have a strong showing on the mound by both (Kelsey) Nunley and (Lauren) Cumbess. I think in order for us to go further it has to start with those two things."
On if Kelsey Nunley will start Friday night ... "I believe so, but we could go with Kelsey Nunley or Lauren Cumbess. They both do a good job and Kelsey did throw against them earlier in the year. I think we will go with Nunley, though. She has 24 wins so far and a lot of our big wins have come when Nunley is on the mound. Lauren also has some very big SEC wins and she is a little older and has more experience so I expect that we will see Cumbess as well this weekend."
On the status of senior Kara Dill ... "Kara is doing well. The only bright spot of our game last week was that Dill was in the lineup the entire time as the DH. The fact that she got those at-bats (was huge) and she had an at-bat the weekend earlier in Alabama as well. So she will be ready to go. We are expecting big things out of Kara tomorrow. If she plays, she will be in the DH role. She is definitely in the hunt to be put back up toward the top of the order. I will decide that tomorrow morning but things look good for her to maybe be back in the top."
On if she has any nerves this weekend ... "Not for me, but I a little older. We start five freshmen and this is their first regional and there is nothing like the first time. It's also the first time that our team has been able to host a regional so for all of them that's a big deal as well. I don't know if they are so much nervous as they are excited to get going. I think there is also a lot of fun when you get outside of SEC play because that can be a grind. I think all these teams are awesome and the fact that we haven't played them three or four times is a little bit of a relief for them. I think overall right now the attitude is pretty positive and lively."
On pressure playing at home ... "No you love a home crowd and we always want to give a show for the crowd. I think the fans who come out deserve it. We work hard and built this stadium for them. I think anytime we go out there we want to give them a show so that's always in the back of our team's mind and I anticipate it will be the same thing tomorrow."
#19 Lauren Cumbess, Jr., P/INF On hosting a NCAA Regional ... "It's huge for us, we've never hosted a regional and we have never been a national seed here at UK. It's huge for us and we have worked really hard for it so it's exciting."
On wanting to play well this weekend to rebound from a disappointing SEC Tournament ... "Absolutely, that's one of the biggest things. Everybody worked so hard getting everything ready for the stadium. We didn't really play well in the SEC tournament and now we have a second chance and we are ready to get it going."
On playing Marshall before this season ... "We have an advantage, both teams do. We have seen each other play in the fall and the spring so we kind of have a feel for each other already and they are a really good program so we are going to have to go out there and play our game to beat them."
On Marshall pitcher Andi Williamson ... "She's really good because she works fast, she throws pretty hard, she has good speed and she has a really good off-speed pitch too. I wouldn't be surprised if she comes with the off-speed a lot. We have been preparing for pretty much everything all week because we don't know who we are going to face. For Marshall's pitcher she is really effective, she's a gamer and she competes."
On the feeling for the team right now ... "We have been excited. We were all real excited when we found out we were going to host and practice has been really up beat and everybody is trying to get better and improve the little things each day. Everybody has been in a really good mood and we are having fun. We play our best when we are having fun."
On importance of winning and staying in the winner's bracket ... "It's really important because it's less on Kelsey Nunley's arm and it's less on my arm if I throw. Everybody just needs rest so if we can play less games, if we can stay in the winner's bracket then it's going to be easier on us."
On the importance of senior Kara Dill ... "(Kara) is very important on and off the field. She has been practicing and working really hard to get back. She has been hitting in practice and she looks good. I don't know what Coach (Lawson) is going to do but she has been working to get back."
#13 Griffin Joiner, So., C On hosting a NCAA Regional ... "It is a big deal because we don't have to go anywhere. It's exciting to get to play in our new stadium in front of our fans."
On Marshall's running game ... "I just have to be anticipating it every time they are on base. I just have to anticipate a steal."
On what she remembers about Marshall's pitcher Andi Williamson ... "Just that she is a competitor and was really going after us. We like that."
On what the team has been working on to get ready for the NCAA Tournament ... "Definitely our hitting. We haven't had long practices in a while because we have been playing all the time, so (this week) we have got to focus on our hitting this week. That has been good. We have also been focusing on defending the slap game in practice."
On if playing at home adds pressure ... "I don't think so, I think it makes it more fun because it is our home fans and we are used to playing here. It is always fun."
On what she expects atmosphere wise from the crowd ... "I hope it is very exciting here because we need that to have a home field advantage."
On the disappointing loss in the SEC Tournament ... "We just didn't play like we were capable of playing and I think we can use that loss for motivation this weekend.