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No. 21 Wildcats face No. 20 Irish in NCAA softball opener

No. 21 Kentucky, with its school-record five players selected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Southeast Region teams, will face No. 20 Notre Dame on Friday in the first round of the NCAA softball tournament.

The Wildcats (36-14), who tied a program record for wins this season to reach their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, is the third seed in the four-team Ann Arbor, Mich., Region. Top-seeded host Michigan and its first-round opponent, fourth-seeded Western Michigan, round out the field.

UK senior Megan Yocke, who broke the school's single-season and career records for walks, and junior pitcher Rachel Riley were first-team NFCA selections Wednesday, while senior Meagan Aull, junior Brittany Cervantes and sophomore Kara Dill were named to the second team.

Cervantes hit 14 homers and drove in 49 runs as UK set team records in home runs, runs scored, walks, RBI and total bases this season.

Riley and junior Chanda Bell have combined for 24 victories this season and 79 in their careers to become the all-time winningest pitching tandem in school history.

Notre Dame (45-9), making its 10th consecutive tournament, is led by Alexa Maldonado, who is batting .420 with 14 doubles and 19 stolen bases. Pitcher Laura Winter owns a 24-3 overall record with a 2.22 ERA and 208 strikeouts on the year.

Friday's meeting in the double-elimination regional will be just the second in program history for the teams.

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