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No. 14 Kentucky faces No. 3 UCLA in NCAA Super Regional

LOS ANGELES – Looking to advance to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in program history, the No. 14 University of Kentucky softball team heads to the West Coast to battle No. 3 UCLA in the NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional starting Saturday at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

The best-of-three Super Regional will start Saturday at 8 p.m. ET before concluding Sunday with a 3 p.m. ET game two and 6 p.m. ET if necessary winner-take-all game. Every game from the Super Regional will be televised nationally on ESPNU and available online at ESPN3.com with Holly Rowe and Amanda Freed calling the action. Saturday’s game will mark the 11th time this season UK has played on regional or national television. Live stats from every game will be available at UKathletics.com. A complete game schedule is below.

Two-day passes for the NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional are available now on Ticketmaster or by calling the UCLA Central Ticket Office (1 p.m. ET – 7 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday) at (310) 825-2946. Two-day passes are $22 for adults and $15 for students and youths (ages 3-16).

Single-day tickets will be available on game days only at the Easton Stadium ticket office, starting 90 minutes prior to first pitch. Single-day tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and youths (ages 3-16). Two-day passes will also be available at Easton Stadium.

All seats are general admission, first-come, first-served. Gates to Easton Stadium open 90 minutes prior to first pitch. Parking is $12 per vehicle in Lot 11 directly across from Easton Stadium, while overflow parking will be directed to the Sunset Canyon Recreation Parking Structure and Lots 4 and 7. Due to other events on UCLA’s campus on Sunday, traffic flow in and out of campus may be impacted. Gates to the UCLA softball game on Sunday open at 10:30 a.m. PT, with parking available in Lot 11 and overflow parking in Lots 4 and 7.

Kentucky is making its third appearance in a NCAA Super Regional in the last four seasons after winning the NCAA Lexington Regional last weekend at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky. UK defeated Ohio to start the regional before a victory over No. 25 James Madison punched its ticket to the regional final. UK dropped the first game of the regional final to DePaul, who is receiving votes in both national rankings, before a 10-1 victory in game two sealed UK’s spot in a Super Regional.

The victories over No. 25 JMU and DePaul last weekend were the 15th and 16th this season for UK over a team ranked or receiving votes at the time UK played team. Saturday’s win over highly ranked JMU marked the 52nd for seventh-year head coach Rachel Lawson over a ranked foe.

Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel paced UK in the regional with a .385 (5-for-13) average, including a triple, inside-the-park home run, two RBI and three runs scored. Junior catcher Griffin Joiner hit .333 (3-for-9) with a double and three RBI, while senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess had a double, homer and three RBI and sophomore infielder Christian Stokes had a double and three RBI.

Cumbess leads Kentucky in hitting overall this season with a .317 (58-for-183) average, including 11 doubles and nine homers, while sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann paces the team with 13 homers and 47 RBI. Senior outfielder Emily Gaines and Samuel are each hitting over .300 this season, while Gaines adds six homers and Samuel paces UK with 18 stolen bases.

Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw every pitch for UK in the regional last weekend, going 3-1 with a 0.49 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched. Nunley struck out 31 batters on the weekend with opponents hitting just .184 against her. All told, Nunley has 27 wins in 2014, tying her own school record for wins in a season. The sophomore is 27-8 in the circle with a 1.89 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 241.1 innings pitched.

Kentucky started its season in California in February, going 5-0 in the Mizuno Invitational and Easton Tournament. The Wildcats played three games in the Mizuno Invitational in Long Beach, Calif., defeating Santa Clara, Long Beach State and George Washington, while UK took down Loyola Marymount and then-No. 2 Oklahoma in the Easton Tournament in Fullerton, Calif. As a team, Kentucky hit .338 in the five-game trip, scoring 31 runs on 48 hits with 12 doubles, two triples, seven homers and 27 RBI. Griffin Joiner was the leader, going 10-for-15 with three homers and two doubles en route to National Player of the Week honors. In the circle, UK posted a 1.25 team ERA, striking out 39 batters in 36 innings pitched limiting teams to just a .132 batting average.

After starting the season on a 17-game winning streak and posting a 19-5 record in PAC-12 play, UCLA is the No. 3 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and has spent a majority of the season ranked in the top five nationally. The Bruins went 3-0 in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional last weekend, defeating Southern Utah and Notre Dame (twice). This is the first NCAA Super Regional appearance for UCLA since winning the Women’s College World Series in 2010. UCLA went 10-0 in the postseason that season to earn its 11th NCAA Championship. UCLA has 51 wins this season, including 12 wins over ranked teams.

Sophomore outfielder Allexis Bennett paces the Bruins offensively with a .432 (35-for-81) average, including one double, two triples and seven RBI, adding 12 stolen bases and a .477 on-base percentage. Junior pitcher/utility player Ally Carda is hitting .388 (66-for-170) this season with 10 doubles, one triple, 13 homers and 54 RBI, while junior utility player Stephany LaRosa is hitting .377 (49-for-130) with 14 homers and 45 RBI. Sophomore infielder Mysha Sataraka leads the team with 16 home runs and 55 RBI, while freshman infielder Delaney Spaulding paces the team with 18 stolen bases.

Carda is the leader in the circle for UCLA, sitting 31-4 with a 1.64 ERA in 209.2 innings pitched. Carda has 219 strikeouts this season with opponents hitting just .202 against her. She went 2-0 in regional play last weekend, while senior Jessica Hall and sophomore Paige McDuffee also saw time in the circle with the Bruins throwing 20 scoreless innings against Southern Utah and Notre Dame. Hall is 16-2 this season with a 2.14 ERA in 118 innings pitched, while McDuffee is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 41.1 innings pitched.

As a team, UCLA is hitting .332 with 72 doubles, 10 triples, 76 homers and 371 runs scored. The Bruins have stolen 54 bases this season, but have been caught stealing 31 times. In the circle, UCLA has a 1.86 ERA as a team with 388 strikeouts and opponents hitting just .202 against the staff.

UCLA leads the all-time series with Kentucky 4-0, with all four games occurring in the Rachel Lawson Era. The two teams first met in 2009 in an early season tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., with the Bruins winning 9-6. The Wildcats played UCLA three times at Easton Stadium in the opening weekend of the 2012 season with the Bruins winning all three games. The meetings in 2012 were the last between the two schools.


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