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Sports briefs: May 3

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will be the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, set for May 26. It will be the 12th time a Corvette has had the honor.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will be the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, set for May 26. It will be the 12th time a Corvette has had the honor. AP

UK SPORTS

Softball team takes aim at defending national champs

The Kentucky softball team has some work to do before hosting the Southeastern Conference Tournament next week.

The Wildcats are already secure in the knowledge they've earned a berth in the tournament. This weekend offers a chance to improve on their current position as the No. 7 seed.

To do so, Kentucky will have to go through defending national champion Alabama, which hosts the Cats for a three-game regular-season ending series in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama is 38-2 all-time against Kentucky and has won all 18 meetings in Tuscaloosa.

The Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds in the SEC Tournament open play on Wednesday next week at Kentucky's John Cropp Stadium. The top six seeds debut in the quarterfinal round beginning Thursday.

Alabama (40-10 overall, 12-9 SEC) is ranked No. 8 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. The Crimson Tide started the season on a 22-game winning streak but has slipped in league play and is tied with Georgia for the No. 5 seed entering the weekend. Alabama suffered a three-game sweep at LSU last weekend.

Kentucky (36-16, 11-10) is ranked No. 19 after going 1-2 in last weekend's SEC series against Missouri.

Kentucky is led offensively by junior infielder/pitcher Lauren Cumbess, who is batting .353 average with a team-best 11 home runs. She also has 38 RBI and 12 doubles.

Kelsey Nunley, who leads SEC freshmen pitchers in wins, ERA and strikeouts, tops UK in nearly every pitching category with a 22-7 record and 2.02 ERA.

Cats change rotation for Arkansas

The UK baseball team opens an eight-game home stand Friday with the opener of a three-game series against Arkansas at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Wildcats will change their pitching rotation for the first time this season. Sophomore left-hander A.J. Reed (2-5, 2.88 ERA) will make his 12th series-opening start of the year on Friday. UK will send freshman right-hander Kyle Cody (3-2, 5.49 ERA) to the mound on Saturday for his first career SEC start. Junior lefty Corey Littrell (5-3, 3.22 ERA) will start on Sunday.

The 6-foot-7 Cody takes the place of Jerad Grundy, who has been the Cats' middle-game starter in most of its SEC series this season. UK has lost the middle game in five consecutive SEC series.

Women's soccer names assistant coach

The UK women's soccer team announced the hiring Thursday of Ian Carry as assistant coach. Carry comes to Kentucky after two seasons as an assistant at Central Michigan. Kentucky head coach Jon Lipsitz said he found what he was looking for in Carry, a native of Ireland with an international coaching background and experience working with high-level goalkeepers.


NBA

Nets stay alive, even series

Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson each scored 17 points, and the Brooklyn Nets again avoided elimination, beating the short-handed Chicago Bulls 95-92 Thursday to tie their first-round series at 3.

The series goes back to Brooklyn for Game 7 on Saturday. The winner gets Miami in the second round.

The Bulls hung in until the end even though they were missing Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.

A layup by former Wildcat Nazr Mohammed cut the Nets' lead to 93-92 with 25.2 seconds remaining but the Nets hung on.

Dwight Howard can go ahead and work on those free throws all off-season. Howard will not have surgery to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder after a recommendation by shoulder specialist James Tibone on Wednesday.

 Goodbye, David Kahn. Hello, Flip Saunders. Again.

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced Thursday that owner Glen Taylor will not to pick up the option for next season on Kahn's contract. Three people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Taylor has agreed on a deal to hire Saunders as Kahn's replacement. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn't been made.

 Golden State coach Mark Jackson was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Thursday for making public comments in an attempt to influence the officiating in the Warriors' playoff series with Denver. After Golden State's 107-100 loss at Denver on Tuesday night, Jackson repeatedly mentioned Kenneth Faried's foul in the first half, when the Denver forward stuck out his right leg and moved his body while Warriors star Stephen Curry ran through traffic.


GOLF

McIlroy atop leaderboard once more

For all the talk about the greens, Rory McIlroy's most important club was his driver Thursday in the Wells Fargo Championship.

McIlroy kept the ball in play at Quail Hollow and gave himself plenty of birdie chances on a cloudy, soft afternoon. He ran off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch around the turn and finished with an 8-foot birdie putt for a 5-under 67 to share the lead with six other players. It was the first time this year McIlroy has been atop the leaderboard after any round, and the first time he broke par in the opening round.

Ariya Jutanugarn was in attack mode all day at the Kingsmill Championship — and it paid off. The 17-year-old Thai player birdied six of the first seven holes Thursday and was 8 under after 14 holes thanks to a radar-like short iron game that left her with short putt after short putt.

 Twelve-year-old amateur Ye Wocheng has become the youngest player ever to compete in a European Tour event, shooting a 7-over 79 on Thursday in the first round of the China Open. Ye had eight bogeys and one birdie.


MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Legends prevail in 10 innings

The Lexington Legends rallied with a run in the ninth inning to tie the game, and then pushed across a run in the 10th to win, 3-2 over the Delmarva Shorebirds Thursday night.

The Legends trailed 2-1 in the ninth when Michael Antonio led off with an infield single. Jin-Ho Shin sacrificed pinch runner Yowill Espinal to second, and Espinal scored on a single by Humberto Arteaga. In the 10th, a wild pitch by Delmarva reliever Jose Nivar allowed Ethan Chapman to score the go-ahead run.


The last word

The Colorado Rockies have agreed to a minor-league deal with three-time All-Star pitcher Roy Oswalt, who is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA at Coors Field.

On his Twitter account, Oswalt tweeted:

"Always loved the mountains, im back!"

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