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No. 12 Wildcats ready for Super Regional at Arizona State

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After hosting the school’s first NCAA Regional last weekend at John Cropp Stadium where it defeated Virginia Tech and Marshall to claim the regional title, the No. 12 University of Kentucky softball team is ready to hit the road to Tempe, Ariz., this weekend to play in the school’s second-ever NCAA Super Regional against No. 5 national seed Arizona State at Farrington Stadium.

Kentucky (41-19) and Arizona State (48-10) will start the best-of-three series Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2, with game two of the series coming Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. If necessary, game three of the series will be played at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. All three games will also be available on WatchESPN.

Fans can also hear every game of the Tempe Super Regional on the UK/IMG Sports Radio Network with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game on 630AM WLAP while it will also be available online at UKathletics.com.

ASU will be the home team Saturday night, while UK will be the home team in game two on Sunday. The higher seeded team has the choice of home/away in game three, if necessary. A full schedule and ticket information is listed below.

Kentucky advanced out of the Lexington Regional behind strong pitching as freshman hurler Kelsey Nunley went 3-1 with a 0.83 ERA, striking out 15 batters in 25.1 innings pitched. Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess also pitched well, going 3.2 innings in the clinching game, allowing no runs on two hits with one strikeout. Combined, opponents only hit just .184 against UK in the regional round, collecting a combined 18 hits and only three earned runs.

Offensively, UK was paced by freshman slapper Sylver Samuel, who hit .556 (5-for-9) with three runs scored, three stolen bases and a .556 on-base percentage. Junior outfielder Ginny Carroll hit .429 in the regional, while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner hit .417 with a double. Cumbess collected three hits over the weekend with a home run and three RBI, while junior infielder Krystal Smith had a home run and two RBI.

Arizona State enters the Tempe Super Regional with a 48-10 overall record after finishing Pac-12 play at 16-8. ASU is an impressive 38-3 at home this season, while it won 21 straight games to open the season. Arizona State has been led offensively this season by Amber Freeman, who has started all 58 games with a .382 batting average, including 18 home runs and 61 RBI. Cheyenne Coyle leads the team with 19 homers and 61 RBI, while Bailey Wigness is hitting .379 with 14 stolen bases. Five ASU players have 10 or more home runs this season, while four players have 40 or more RBI. As a team, ASU is hitting .334 with 92 homers and 403 runs scored.

The Sun Devils have been just as good in the circle, posting a team ERA of 2.07 with 418 strikeouts as a staff. Dallas Escobedo paces the team with a 28-4 record and 2.10 ERA after dominating regional action with a 3-0 record and no runs scored on just five hits in three games. Escobedo hasn’t allowed an earned run in 31 consecutive innings. Mackenzie Popescue is 19-6 this season with a 2.03 ERA in 134.1 innings pitched, while Alexis Cooper and Jenna Makis are a combined 1-0 in limited action.

Kentucky squared off against the Sun Devils once this season back in February in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. UK fell behind early to Arizona State in the game, dropping an 8-1 decision. Escobedo got the start for ASU, throwing a complete game, allowing one earned run on five hits with eight strikeouts. The lone run was scored on a solo home run in the fifth inning by Joiner. UK also had hits from Kara Dill, Alice O’Brien and Cumbess in the game.

Cumbess started in the circle for UK, going three innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits with one strikeout. Nunley came on in relief in the fourth inning, allowing five earned runs on seven hits. Elizabeth Caporuscio was the offensive star for ASU, hitting a double and triple with two RBI, while Freedman and Sam Parlich also had home runs.

Although UK only played Arizona State once this season, the Wildcats have played three games this year at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. UK actually started its season with a win over highly ranked Cal at Farrington Stadium before defeating Oregon State the next day at the park as part of the 2013 Kajikawa Classic.

Saturday’s Super Regional game marks just the third all-time meeting between Kentucky and Pac-12 power Arizona State with the series tied a 1-1. The two teams first met in the Kajikawa Classic in 2010 in Tempe with the Wildcats posting a 5-2 victory over ASU. The second meeting was UK’s 8-1 loss earlier this season. Both games were played at Farrington Stadium.

For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.

NCAA Tempe Super Regional
Kentucky - 41-19
Arizona State - 48-10

Game One: Saturday, May 25 - Kentucky vs. Arizona State - 10 p.m. ET - ESPN2
Game Two: Sunday, May 26 - Arizona State vs. Kentucky - 5 p.m. ET - ESPN
Game Three: Sunday, May 26 - Kentucky vs. Arizona State - 8 p.m. ET - ESPN2*
* If necessary

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