UK Softball announces 2012 Schedule

LEXINGTON, Ky. – On the heels of the most successful season in program history that saw the Kentucky softball team host the NCAA Super Regional's, and post a winning record within the rigorous Southeastern Conference, head coach Rachel Lawson has announced the team's 2012 schedule, which will feature games against eight top-25 teams from the 2011 season.

Kentucky will host 17 games at the UK Softball Complex, including top-25 match-ups with in-state rival Louisville, Georgia, LSU and College World Series finalist Alabama.

"The team is excited about the challenge of our 2012 schedule," Lawson said. "One of our cornerstone beliefs is that if you want to be a top-10 team you have to make top-10 plays on the national stage. Clearly, with the strength of the SEC and the challenges built into playing an aggressive preseason schedule, we will be afforded the continued opportunity to prove that we are one of the nation's elite programs."

The Wildcats will be on the road for the opening month of the season, competing in four tournaments. UK will open the season in Los Angeles, Calif., taking part in the Stacy Winsbury Memorial Tournament. The Wildcats will take on UCLA on Feb. 9,10, and 11, while also facing Pacific on Feb. 10 as well.

Kentucky will then travel south the following weekend to take part in the Florida Atlantic University tournament from Feb. 17-19. The Wildcats will play five games in three days against Maryland, Wright State, Long Island, Florida Atlantic and Michigan. In 2011, the Wildcats knocked off nationally-seeded Michigan in the Ann Arbor regional, allowing the Wildcats to host the 2011 Lexington Super Regional.

Over the weekend of Feb. 24 and 25, the Wildcats will travel to Statesboro, Ga., to compete in the Georgia Southern Invitational. The Wildcats will compete against North Florida, Jacksonville State, Radford and Georgia Southern.

As the season enters the month of March, the Wildcats will travel to their final pre-conference tournament of the year, The Ragin' Cajuns Invitational. UK will face off against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana-Lafayette and Nicholls State over the three-day stretch of March 2-4.

Widely regarded as the most competitive conference in the country the SEC ended the 2011 season with six nationally-ranked teams, including Florida, the Women's College World Series runners-up.

Kentucky will begin SEC play the weekend of March 9-11 when UK will welcome the Alabama Crimson Tide to Lexington for a three-game series at the UK Softball Complex. Similar to the 2011 format, all SEC weekend series will feature a Friday night game, as well as one game on Saturday and Sunday. All of the Friday night games at the UK Softball Complex within the SEC will begin at 6:00 p.m. ET, with all of the Saturday and Sunday contests scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. ET.

After a mid-week game against Western Illinois on March 13, the Wildcats will host the University of Kentucky Tournament over the weekend of March 16-18. UK will face off against a field of three other teams including UAB, Missouri-Kansas City and North Carolina State. The champion of the tournament will be crowned on Feb.18 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

The Wildcats will have a mid-week contest against Western Kentucky on March 21 before returning to SEC action.

The second SEC series of the season will be in Auburn, Ala. against the Auburn Tigers. The series will be contested March 23-25.

As tradition, the Wildcats will play a home-and-home series with in-state rival Louisville in 2012. In 2011, the two squads split the series, with each team successfully defending its home field. The Wildcats will host the first of the two games, with Louisville traveling to Lexington on March 28 with first pitch slated for 6:00 p.m. ET. Kentucky will make the return trip to Louisville on April 4.

As March turns into April, the Blue and White's schedule gets tougher, as eight of the Wildcats 17 games in the month of April will be against ranked teams from 2011.

After claiming a series win over Tennessee for the first time since 2000 last season, the Wildcats will look to take back-to-back series from the Lady Vols for the first time in school history with three games over the weekend of March 30-April 1 in Knoxville, Tenn.

After taking two of three from the Gamecocks a year ago, South Carolina will travel to Lexington for a three-game set over the weekend of April 6-8. In 2011, UK took the first two games of the series before dropping the series finale in eight innings 4-3. The series marks the beginning of an eight-game homestand for the Wildcats.

The Arkansas Razorbacks will travel to Lexington for a doubleheader on April 11. UK took both games of the doubleheader a year ago in Fayetteville, Ark. The front end of the doubleheader will begin at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Kentucky will wrap up the eight-game homestand on April 13-15 when UK welcomes in Georgia, a member of the NCAA Super Regionals from a year ago.

After a rainout in 2011, the Wildcats and the Ole Miss Rebels will tangle in Oxford, Miss., for a midweek doubleheader on April 18. The Wildcats have captured the last four series with the Rebels, dating back to 2007.

Kentucky will complete the Mississippi swing April 20-22 when the Wildcats travel to Starkville, Miss., to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Wildcats swept the Bulldogs a season ago on the heels of a Chanda Bell perfect game, in which Bell struck out 11 batters. The Wildcats have claimed each of the last three series with the Bulldogs.

After a midweek contest with Morehead State on April 24, the Wildcats will head to Gainesville, Fla., to take on the national runner-up. Last year, the Wildcats swept Florida in Lexington for the first time in program history, and only the second-ever series win over Florida. UK will face off vs. Florida at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday night, with the Saturday and Sunday contests beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

UK will return home to Lexington for the final time in the regular season on May 4-6 against nationally-ranked LSU. The Tigers and Wildcats will face off in both teams regular-season finales.

The SEC Tournament will be held in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the week of May 10. The SEC Tournament champion will be crowned on May 12, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The 2012 Women's College World Series will be contested in Oklahoma City, Okla., with the National Champion scheduled to be crowned on June 6.

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