LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — The University of Kentucky softball team will open play in the NCAA Tournament at home.
The Wildcats (33-22) will host Toledo (29-26) at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Joe Cropp Stadium. It marks the fourth consecutive season Kentucky has been selected as a host sight in the opening round. The Wildcats are a No 14 seed and will open the tourney following the Illinois-Virginia Tech contest in the opener at noon.
“It’s an advantage,” Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson said. “We didn’t know which way it was going to go. We certainly thought we had a good resume, but it was really iffy, especially since we kept waiting (for the bid). We’re excited to be (at home).”
Overall, Kentucky and all Southeastern Conference member schools made the field. Overall, six teams are seeded and the Wildcats have become a regular in the field during the past four seasons.
“It talks about the consistency of the program and the support that we get with the fan base and the great recruits that can come in, year-in and year-out,” she said. “It just talks about the overall strength of the program and hopefully we can keep it going strong.”
Lawson said the four teams in the Lexington regional are capable of advancing to the next round.
“It’s a very strong regional,” she said. “It’s going to be one of the most even regionals (in the tourney). We seem to always get that, which seems to always be exciting for television, but there are very good teams coming from conferences and they all play tough schedules, so I expect it’s going to be a tough region.”
Lawson doesn’t know much about her team’s first opponent, but is looking forward to facing the Mid-American Conference champion.
“That’s the one team I don’t know about, because they had an unbelievable tournament,” she said. “They have a lot of momentum going for them right now. I’m looking forward to scouting them and seeing a new team.”
NCAA Softball Lexington Regional
at John Cropp Stadium
Friday, May 17
Game 1 – Illinois (32-23) vs. Virginia Tech (45-9) – Noon – ESPN3
Game 2 – Toledo (29-26) vs. Kentucky (33-22) – 2:30 p.m. – ESPN3
Saturday, May 18
Game 3 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – Noon
Game 4 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 2:30 p.m.
Game 5 – Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 19
Game 6 – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 – Noon
Game 7 – (If necessary) – 2:30 p.m.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.