Kentucky's softball team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and it will open against Northwestern in the South Bend, Ind., Regional at 2 p.m. Friday. UK (29-24) has been ranked in the top 25 all season, but the Cats finished 12th in the Southeastern Conference standings with a 5-19 record.
It was the seventh straight NCAA berth for UK.
Northwestern is 28-21 this season. It finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference with a 14-8 record.
Ball State (33-23) and host Notre Dame (40-13), the 16th overall seed in the tournament, are also in UK's region.
The regional is a double-elimination format, with the winner advancing to a super regional against the winner of the Gainesville, Fla., Regional, which includes No. 1 overall seed Florida, Hostra, Florida Atlantic and Florida A&M.
■ Conference USA champion Western Kentucky (34-12) will face North Carolina (36-14) at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the Athens, Ga., Regional that also includes host Georgia and Central Connecticut State.
Hilltoppers pitcher Miranda Kramer (24-8) leads the nation in strikeouts with 410, and she's second in ERA at 0.83 and shutouts with 13.
■ Louisville (30-17) will face Kansas (38-13) on Friday in the Columbia, Mo., Regional that also includes host Missouri and Indiana State.