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UK softball earns No. 9 overall seed, will host Butler in NCAA opener

Kentucky’s Kelsey Nunley celebrated with catcher Jenny Schaper after pitching five scoreless innings against Mississippi State at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington on Sunday, May 8, 2016.
Kentucky’s Kelsey Nunley celebrated with catcher Jenny Schaper after pitching five scoreless innings against Mississippi State at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington on Sunday, May 8, 2016.

Kentucky’s softball team, ranked 11th in both the ESPN and USA Today polls, is the No. 9 overall seed and will host Butler on Friday at John Cropp Stadium in its NCAA Tournament opener. It is the Cats’ seventh straight NCAA appearance, and the program’s highest seeding in its history.

Butler (28-22) won the Big East Tournament championship. The other matchup in the Lexington Regional, which has a double-elimination format, is Illinois (35-21) against Utah (32-19).

Kentucky (43-11) played Utah earlier this season, winning on a walk-off passed ball in the bottom of the seventh over the then-No. 22 ranked Utes at Farrington Stadium in the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix. UK has not played Illinois or Butler this season.

The tournament’s No. 1 overall seed is two-time defending champion Florida, followed by Michigan, Oklahoma and back-to-back Southeastern Conference Tournament champion Auburn.

Kentucky’s star pitcher, Kelsey Nunley (21-5), ranks 10th in the nation in ERA (1.37) and 33rd in strikeouts (192).

UK announced that Lexington Regional tickets for its students will be free. All-session tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday, and will be available at the Joe Craft Center ticket office and UKathletics.com/tickets.

▪  Click here for the complete bracket.

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