May 15, 2014 10:46 AM
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fresh off its first appearance in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship game, the No. 14 seeded University of Kentucky softball team is looking to continue its winning ways by playing host to the NCAA Lexington Regional this weekend at John Cropp Stadium.
The double-elimination regional, which features four teams in Kentucky, James Madison, DePaul and Ohio, will run Friday through Sunday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky's tournament run will start against Ohio at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday after James Madison and DePaul begin the night at 5 p.m. ET.
Live stats and free live video from every game at John Cropp Stadium this weekend will be available on UKathletics.com. A complete schedule of events and ticket information is posted below, while fans can visit www.ukathletics.com/ncaasoftball for complete information on the regional.
Kentucky's games this weekend will be broadcasted live on local radio with Ryan Lemond calling the action on Friday night and Dick Gabriel on the call Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Saturday's games can be heard live on WWTF-AM 1580 in Lexington, while Sunday's games will be on WLAP-AM 630 in Lexington.
All-session and single-session passes for the event are on-sale now. All-session passes for reserved seating is $30 (ages 2 and older), while all-session passes for general admission seating is $20 (ages 2 and older). Single-session passes are $15 for reserved seating, $10 for general admission (adult) and $8 for youth/seniors. Fans can purchase tickets online at UKathletics.com, in-person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or over the phone at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818. UK students who present an valid UK Student ID at the will call window will receive free admission into the games.
This is the sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history for Kentucky, who made its first showing in the tournament in 2009. The Wildcats 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 2012 Louisville Regional.
Last season, UK was the No. 12 national seed and hosted a regional for the first time in program history. The Wildcats won the regional with a 3-1 record, defeating Virginia Tech (twice) and Marshall. UK fell in both of its games in the 2013 Tempe Super Regional to Arizona State.
The Wildcats are one of 21 schools in the nation to make the NCAA Tournament six straight seasons and one of nine schools to be a national seed each of the last two seasons. All-time, UK is 11-11 in the NCAA Tournament with all tournament appearances coming under Lawson. Kentucky is 18-13 against the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.
Senior outfielder Emily Gaines leads Kentucky offensively this season with a .333 (39-for-117) average, including six homers, seven doubles and 35 RBI. Senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess is hitting .320 (55-for-172) with eight homers and 34 RBI, while sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann leads the team with 13 homers and 46 RBI. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel is hitting near .300 this season with a team-best 17 stolen bases.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley leads UK in the circle with a 24-7 record and 2.07 ERA, striking out 164 in 213 innings pitched. Nunley is the only player in school history to win 20 games in a season, accomplishing the feat in each of her first two years at UK. Cumbess is 10-1 this season with a 2.07 ERA in 91.1 innings pitched, while freshmen Meagan Prince and Shannon Smith have each received time in the circle and performed well.
James Madison enters the weekend ranked No. 25 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25, while the Dukes are receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. JMU is 44-13 this season and has spent much of the season receiving votes in both rankings. JMU has a program-record 44 wins in 2014 after winning both the Colonial Athletic Association regular season and tournament championships. Friday marks the second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Dukes, who played in the Knoxville Regional last season. JMU has wins over several highly ranked teams, including a 3-0 victory over the tournament's overall No. 1 seed Oregon and a 3-0 victory over NCAA Tournament national seed Louisiana-Lafayette. JMU rides a 15-game winning streak into the tournament.
Senior infielder Caitlin Sandy leads the team with a .337 (56-for-166) average, adding eight doubles, one triple, seven homers and 31 RBI, while sophomore catcher Erica Field is hitting .314 (55-for-175) with a team-best 16 doubles and 36 RBI. In the circle, JMU is paced by Jailyn Ford, who is 23-6 with a 1.24 ERA in 215.1 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting just .197 against Ford this season, who has 219 strikeouts. Ford also leads the team with nine homers at the plate. Junior Heather Kiefer is 20-7 for JMU with a 2.02 ERA in 156 innings pitched with 70 strikeouts. Kentucky and James Madison have never in softball.
DePaul is making its 18th appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big East regular season and tournament championship. The Blue Demons, who are receiving votes in both national polls, have advanced to the Women's College World Series four times in program history and are 42-35 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Demons have some common opponents with Kentucky, defeating Ole Miss, Kansas and Butler, while falling in a doubleheader to Louisville. UK went 7-1 against those four teams this season. DePaul has a win this season over Notre Dame, who is ranked in the top 20 in both national polls. The Blue Demons were a perfect 13-0 at home this season, while sitting 12-5 in true road games and 16-4 in neutral site games.
Offensively, junior pitcher/infielder Mary Connolly paces the team with a .407 (57-for-140) average, including a team-best 13 home runs and 41 RBI. Senior infielder Allie Braden is hitting .356 (58-for-163) with 15 doubles, while junior infielder Staci Bonezek has a team-best nine stolen bases. In all, eight players are hitting over .300 for DePaul this season. Senior Kirsten Verdun is the leader in the circle with a 30-5 record and 1.72 ERA in 220 innings pitched with 265 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .193 against her. Connolly is 6-3 with a 2.04 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched.
Kentucky and DePaul have met four times in school history with the all-time series tied 2-2. The two teams first met in UK's inaugural season in 1997 with the Blue Demons posting an 8-0 victory. UK earned a 2-1 win over DePaul in 2005. Under Rachel Lawson, the two teams have met twice with DePaul winning 5-1 in 2009, before a 6-3 UK win in 2011. All four games have been at early season tournaments and neutral site games.
Ohio is making its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history and first since 1995 after winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The tournament title was the first ever for the Bobcats, who were making their second appearance in the championship game in four seasons. Ohio has defeated some quality teams this season, including Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina in the opening weekend of the season. The Bobcats won 12 of their first 13 games to start the season and have wins this season over Marshall and Kent State, two teams that UK has also defeated. The Bobcats, who enter the tournament on a four-game winning streak, are 32-24 this season, including 7-13 in true road games and 17-8 in neutral site games.
Sophomore infielder Amanda Dalton leads the team offensively with a .323 (54-for-167) average, including five doubles and 11 stolen bases, while junior catcher Adrienne Gebele it hitting .305 (53-for-174) with 12 doubles and nine homers. Senior infielder Alexandria Basquez leads the team with 10 homers and 42 RBI. Sophomore pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey is the pitching leader for Ohio, sitting 25-16 with a 2.32 ERA in 256.1 innings pitched. Dorsey has 290 strikeouts this season with opponents hitting just .213 against her. Junior Lauren McClary is 6-6 in the circle with a 3.59 ERA in 109.1 innings pitched.
Kentucky and Ohio have met six times in school history, with Friday's NCAA Tournament opener marking the seventh meeting and first since 2006. Kentucky leads the all-time series 5-1, including a 2-1 mark in Lexington. Ohio won the first-ever meeting between the two schools, 7-6, in Lexington in 1998. The Wildcats have won five straight in the series, including three wins vs. Ohio in 2006. UK has never faced the Bobcats under Rachel Lawson.
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Lexington Regional - May 16-18 - John Cropp Stadium - Lexington, Ky.
James Madison (44-13)
NCAA Lexington Regional Schedule
Friday, May 16
Game 1 - James Madison vs. DePaul - 5 p.m. ET
Game 2 - Kentucky vs. Ohio - 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 17
Game 3 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 1 p.m. ET
Game 4 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Game 5 - Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 - 6 p.m. ET
Sunday, May 18
Game 6 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 -1 p.m. ET
Game 7 - (If necessary) -3:30 p.m. ET
Reserved (sections B-F)
- All ages 2 and older: $30
- Age 1 and under free of charge
General Admission (sections A & G)
- All ages 2 and older: $20
- Age 1 and under free of charge
Reserved - $15
General Admission Adult - $10
General Admission Youth/Senior - $8
UK Students - Free (must show valid student ID at will call)
* Fans can purchase passes online at UKathletics.com, in-person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or over the phone at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818.