[Moderated by Matt Jones]
They’ve done it again. It was a little closer this year than last year, but nonetheless, the UK Softball team has floated off of the bubble into the NCAA Tournament Louisville Regional. As announced last night, UK will travel to Louisville in a double elimination format that features UK, Michigan, Louisville, and Valparaiso. UK drew Michigan for their first test. The Wolverines are the Big 10 champs and hold a 39-15 record on the season. UK and Michigan met early in the year as the Wolverines blanked the Cats 3-0 in victory. The Cats and Wolverines will play Friday evening at 4:30 pm ET at Louisville’s Softball stadium.
The winner of Kentucky’s game will play the winner of the Louisville Valpo game on Saturday while the losers of each game will play each other. The rules are simple for each Regional: if you lose 2 you’re out. If Kentucky were to lose to Michigan and beat Valpo in the elimination game they would turn around and play the loser of the Michigan Louisville game in another elimination match. Michigan, Louisville, and Valparaiso all reached the NCAA Tournament via conference titles. The Cats are the lone at-large team. Louisville is 50-3 on the year while the Crusaders of Valparaiso are 42-17 on the season. Kentucky’s 29-28 record may look lousy compared to the other marks but keep in mind the Cats had to go through the SEC: aka the gauntlet of College Softball.
Rachel Lawson had this to say after learning the Cats would go on to their school record 4th consecutive Big Dance:
“My first thought is that I’m excited we are in the tournament, we have an opportunity to win and go on. Any chance that you have to extend your season is a good day.”
“Louisville is somebody who we are familiar with which is a good thing, but because it is so close to us we are hoping for a good fan base, we always have a good turnout and the Big Blue Nation is great, and I’m hoping that plays into our favor.”
Kentucky’s 4:30 pm game will be featured on ESPNU on Friday. Not all Regional games are televised so there’s some good news. 8)
The Ultimate Pinnacle of the Softball Tournament will take place May 31st-June 6th as Oklahoma City will host the 2012 College World Series. Could we see the Cats make the ultimate Cinderella story? We shall see. The Cats’ Regional Championship will take place Sunday at 1 pm. If they make it of course.
In a season where expectations were sky high after a Super Regional finish in 2011 and a preseason #13 ranking, the Cats might not have completely lived up to the bill, but they have showed tremendous resolve in the latter parts of the ’12 season. If you are a Cat fan living in Louisville like me I strongly encourage you to make it out to watch the Cats play Friday. Congrats to the ladies on making some history!!
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