The University of Kentucky softball team was awarded the opportunity to host an NCAA Tournament softball regional during Sunday night's selection show, but the path to the super regionals will not be an easy one for the Wildcats.
Kentucky, ranked No. 19 in the most recent coaches poll, will host a four-team regional Friday through Sunday at John Cropp Stadium. Joining Kentucky in the Lexington Regional will be Illinois-Chicago, Notre Dame and No. 16 Michigan.
All-session tickets were to go on sale Monday at 9 a.m., exclusively through UKathletics.com/NCAATickets. Single-session tickets will go on sale Wednesday at 9 a.m., based on availability.
The regional begins Friday at noon with No. 2 regional seed Michigan (43-11) taking on No. 3 seed Notre Dame (32-21). Following that game, at about 2:30 p.m., No. 1 seed Kentucky (31-19) plays No. 4 Illinois-Chicago (33-19).
The double-elimination tournament continues with three game Saturday, scheduled for noon, 2:30 and 5 p.m. The event concludes Sunday with one game at noon, and another at 2:30 p.m. if necessary.
The 16 regional champions in the 64-team NCAA Tournament advance to the super-regional round. The eight super-regional winners move on to the College World Series.
Kentucky's opening game will be broadcast live on WatchESPN.com. The Notre Dame-Michigan game will be shown on ESPN2. Additional broadcast details will come later.
Illinois-Chicago earned an automatic bid to the NCAA field by winning the Horizon League Tournament for the second year in a row.
Kentucky and Illinois-Chicago did not meet during the regular season. Their scheduled game in the Cartier Classic in San Diego in February was canceled.
Michigan and Notre Dame squared off twice this season. Michigan won 6-0 on Feb. 17. The Fighting Irish took the rematch, 4-3, the following day.
▪ All 13 softball-playing schools from the Southeastern Conference claimed berths in the NCAA Tournament (Vanderbilt does not offer the sport).
Of those 13, nine earned top-16 seeds, meaning they host regionals. Florida is the No. 2 overall seed, and is followed by No. 7 Georgia, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 10 Tennessee, No. 11 LSU, No. 12 Alabama, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 15 Texas A&M and No. 16 Kentucky.
▪ Oregon, which knocked Kentucky out of the NCAA Tournament in the super-regional round last season, is the No. 1 overall seed in this year's tourney.
▪ Defending national champion Oklahoma is the No. 4 overall seed this year. The rest of the 16 seeded teams are No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 Washington, No. 6 Florida State, No. 8 Arizona State and No. 14 Arizona.