Cats a No. 2 seed in Louisville Regional

Kentucky has drawn a No. 2 seed in the Louisville Regional of the NCAA Baseball Tournament and will play third-seeded Kansas on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

The 64-team tournament field was unveiled Monday afternoon with the Wildcats placed in an intriguing region that also features top-seeded Louisville and Kent State, a team UK faced in an epic 21-inning game in the 2012 Gary Regional.

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Kentucky (35-23) will be making its eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Cats open against Kansas (34-24) with the winner playing Louisville (45-15) or Kent State (36-21) in the double-elimination bracket.

The Jayhawks are currently riding a three-game losing streak, having lost to Michigan in their regular season finale and to West Virginia and Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament. Prior to hitting that stretch, however, KU had reeled off 11 wins in 12 games to bolster its tourney resume.

Kansas is led at the plate by junior outfielder Dakota Smith, who posts a .333 batting average with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 42 RBI.

On the mound, the Jayhawks' top two starters are senior right-hander Frank Duncan (6-3, 2.46 ERA) and junior right-hander Robert Kahana (4-6, 3.05 ERA) who will be tested by the SEC's top offensive lineup featuring a number of left-handed bats. Freshman right-hander Stephen Villines (2-2, 1.64 ERA, 8 SV) has been a rock-solid closer for KU.

Coming off a 3-1 showing last week in reaching the SEC Tournament semifinals, the Cats are 2-0 versus regional opponents this season. They swept Louisville in their annual home-and-home series, winning 8-3 in Lexington and 4-2 in Louisville.

UK enters the tourney with a No. 19 RPI and 15 wins against Top 50 RPI teams this season. That includes five wins against teams that earned No. 1 national seeds (Florida 3, Vanderbilt 1 and Virginia 1).

A.J. Reed leads the Cats into the tourney as the expected national player of the year. The junior pitcher/first baseman is the NCAA leader in home runs (23), slugging percentage (.768) and OPS (1.259). He has posted a .351 batting average and an SEC-high 70 RBI.

On the mound, the southpaw Reed is 11-2 with a 2.10 ERA. All eyes will be on the rest of the UK staff, though, if the Cats are to make a deep run in the tourney.

Chandler Shepherd (5-4, 3.36 ERA), Kyle Cody (4-0, 2.65) and Andrew Nelson (2-5, 3.80 ERA) will be leaned on heavily to bridge the gap between Reed's outings, as well as a UK bullpen led by Spencer Jack (4-1, 1.19 ERA) and Logan Salow (2-3, 5.40 ERA).

2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship (all times Eastern)

Baton Rouge Regional hosted by LSU
#1 LSU (44-14-1) vs. #4 Southeastern La. (37-23), 3 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Houston (44-15) vs. #3 Bryant (42-14), 8 p.m., ESPN3

Bloomington Regional hosted by Indiana
#1 Indiana (42-13) vs. #4 Youngstown State (16-36), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Indiana State (35-16) vs. #3 Stanford (30-23), 2 p.m., ESPN3

Charlottesville Regional hosted by Virginia
#1 Virginia (44-13) vs. #4 Bucknell (30-19-1), 2 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Arkansas (38-23) vs. #3 Liberty (41-16), 7 p.m., ESPNU

Coral Gables Regional hosted by Miami (Florida)
#1 Miami (Florida) (41-17) vs. #4 Bethune-Cookman (26-31), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Texas Tech (40-18) vs. #3 Columbia (29-18), 2 p.m., ESPN3

Corvallis Regional hosted by Oregon State
#1 Oregon State (42-12) vs. #4 North Dakota State (25-24), 11 p.m., ESPNU
#2 UNLV (35-23) vs. #3 UC Irvine (35-22), 5 p.m., ESPN3

Columbia Regional hosted by South Carolina
#1 South Carolina (42-16) vs. #4 Campbell (40-19), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Maryland (36-21) vs. #3 Old Dominion (36-24), 1 p.m., ESPN3

Fort Worth Regional hosted by TCU
#1 TCU (42-15) vs. #4 UTSA (35-23), 8 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Texas A&M (32-27) vs. #3 UC Santa Barbara (34-23), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3

Gainesville Regional hosted by Florida
#1 Florida (40-21) vs. #4 Col. of Charleston (41-17), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Long Beach State (32-24) vs. #3 North Carolina (34-25), 1 p.m., ESPN3

Houston Regional hosted by Rice
#1 Rice (41-18) vs. #4 George Mason (34-20), 8 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Texas (38-18) vs. #3 Texas A&M (33-24), 4 p.m., ESPNU

Lafayette Regional hosted by La.-Lafayette
#1 La.-Lafayette (53-7) vs. Jackson State (31-23), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Mississippi State (37-22) vs. #3 San Diego State (42-19), 2 p.m., ESPN3

Louisville Regional hosted by Louisville
#1 Louisville (45-15) vs. #4 Kent State (36-21), 6 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Kentucky (35-23) vs. #3 Kansas (34-24), 2 p.m., ESPN3

Nashville Regional hosted by Vanderbilt
#1 Vanderbilt (41-18) vs. #4 Xavier (29-27), 8 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Oregon (42-18) vs. #3 Clemson (36-23), 1 p.m., ESPN3

Oxford Regional hosted by Ole Miss
#1 Ole Miss (41-18) vs. #4 Jacksonville State (36-25), 8 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Washington (39-15-1) vs. #3 Georgia Tech (36-25), 4 p.m., ESPN3

San Luis Obispo Regional hosted by Cal Poly
#1 Cal Poly (45-10) vs. #4 Sacramento State (39-22), 9 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Arizona State (33-22) vs. #3 Pepperdine (39-16), 4 p.m., ESPN3

Stillwater Regional hosted by Oklahoma State
#1 Oklahoma State (45-16) vs. #4 Binghamton (25-25), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Nebraska (40-19) vs. #3 Cal State Fullerton (32-22), 1 p.m., ESPNU

Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida St.
#1 Florida State (43-15) vs. #4 Ga. Southern (39-21), 6 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Alabama (34-22) vs. #3 Kansas (34-24), Noon, ESPN3


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