Wildcats Begin 2012 NCAA Tournament vs. Michigan
May 17, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky softball team will hit the field as a member of the 64-team field in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET in Louisville. UK takes on Michigan to open tournament play as part of the Louisville Regional. Every pitch of the Louisville Regional will air live on the ESPN family of networks with Friday's contest airing on ESPN2. Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza will have the call.
Kentucky (29-28) is one of nine Southeastern Conference teams to comprise the tournament field. UK is one of seven league teams and just 27 teams nationally to appear in every NCAA Tournament in the last four seasons.
The UK senior class has compiled a 135-94 overall record in its careers to formulate the best four-year stretch in school history. The 2012 seniors remain the only class to appear in postseason competition in each of its four seasons in the Blue and White.
Kentucky owns an all-time 7-6 record in the NCAA Tournament highlighted by a Super Regional run in 2011. The Wildcats will take on a familiar foe in Michigan who UK knocked off twice in Ann Arbor, Mich., a season ago to march to the Super Regional.
Michigan (39-15) claimed its fifth consecutive Big 10 title to earn the conference's automatic bid into the tournament. Amanda Chidester leads the bats with a .354 average and nine homers. Haylie Wagner is the ace of the staff with a 29-5 overall record and a 1.55 ERA.
Louisville and Valparaiso round out the field in Louisville this weekend. The Cardinals are the national No. 15 seed with a tournament-best 53-3 record. Kristin Austin headlines the offensive effort with a blistering .401 clip and 19 extra base hits including eight triples. Tori Collins paces a three-player pitching rotation that has all yielded just one loss each. Collins is 23-1 with a squad-best 1.25 ERA.
Valparaiso gained entry by way of capturing the Horizon League and it marks the Crusaders' first-ever bid into the NCAA Tournament in school history. The Crusaders own a 42-17 overall record and are led by a .428 batting average and 14 home runs from Jordan Rutkowski. In the circle, Alex Lagesse has charted a 1.98 ERA to couple with a 22-9 record on the year.
The regional is a double-elimination format, with the winner advancing to a Super Regional against the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional, which includes No. 2 seed Alabama, Georgia Tech, Tennessee-Martin and South Alabama. The Super Regional, slated for May 24-27, is a best two-of-three format with the winner advancing to the eight-team Women's College World Series, scheduled for May 31-June 6 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Complete coverage of the Kentucky softball team can be found at UKathletics.com.
Louisville Regional - May 18-20 at Louisville, Ky.
NCAA Regional Schedule Friday, May 18
Saturday, May 19
Sunday, May 20
Group and berm: $5.00 Single Session only