The Kentucky softball team began its NCAA Tournament road trip without a change of clothes, defeating Virginia Tech in the comfy confines of John Cropp Stadium.
The next destination will require substantially more packing as the Wildcats head west to face No. 5 Arizona State in the Super Regional at Tempe, Ariz.
It will mark only the second Super Regional appearance in school history for the No. 12 Wildcats (41-19). The best best-of-three series begins Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Game 2 will be Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. If necessary, Game 3 will be Sunday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
Arizona State (48-10) is an impressive 38-3 at home this season. The Sun Devils defeated UK 8-1 in February as part of the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe.
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. 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.
Offensively, the Cats were led by freshman Sylver Samuel, who hit .556 (5-for-9) with three runs scored and three stolen bases in the regional. Junior outfielder Ginny Carroll hit .429, while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner hit .417 with a double. Cumbess and junior infielder Krystal Smith each had home runs.
ASU is led by Amber Freeman, who has hit .382 this season with 18 home runs and 61 RBI. Cheyenne Coyle has homered 19 times and also has 61 RBI. Power could be a key factor in the series. The Sun Devils have 92 home runs as a team compared to 57 for UK.
The Sun Devils have been just as good in the circle, posting a team ERA of 2.07 with 418 strikeouts. Dallas Escobedo leads 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. She 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.
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
Cats prepare for ASU in Super Regional
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