BLACKSBURG (hokiesports.com) – The Virginia Tech softball team heads to Lexington, Ky., Wednesday for its second-straight, and sixth overall NCAA Tournament, this one hosted by the University of Kentucky. The third-seeded Hokies will take the diamond at 5 p.m. Friday evening and will face second-seeded Notre Dame. The 2013 NCAA Lexington Regional games will be broadcast on ESPN3.com and feature Cara Capuano and Olympian Leah O’Brien-Amico on the call.
The double-elimination regional, which features four teams in 12th-seeded Kentucky, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Marshall, will run Friday through Sunday at the brand-new, 1,500-seat John Cropp Stadium on UK’s campus. After the Hokies and the Irish face off at 5 p.m., the Wildcats will host Marshall at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. All games of the Lexington Regional will be on ESPN3.com. The complete tournament schedule is listed below.
After finishing strong in advancing to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, the Hokies sit with a 35-19 record, but went just 9-11 in ACC play to finish sixth. Regardless, the Hokies still boast of an RPI of 38th and made the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year and sixth time overall.
This marks the first time Tech softball will play in the state of Kentucky. The Bluegrass State will be the 24th state the Hokies have played softball in. Four of the five previous NCAA Tournament appearances have been in Knoxville, Tenn., while the other was at Ohio State in 2007 when the Hokies were the No. 16 national seed. This is Tech’s sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament where the Hokies sport a 10-12 record. Below is Tech’s year-by-year results in the Big Dance.
Tech has not played any games this season against teams from the SEC, Big East or Conference-USA.
The Regional will be a reunion of sorts as Tech’s Kat Banks and Kentucky’s Ginny Carroll have been best friends since birth, literally. Their parents are friends and the two girls have been paired together since Carroll was born five months after Banks. They played softball together since they were 5-year-olds, and before leaving for college out of Beech High School in Hendersonville, Tenn., the two had never gone more than a couple of weeks without seeing each other.
The forecast for is calling for some scattered thunderstorms this weekend that could cause some delays. Kentucky has created a weather hotline for fans to use before coming to the park: The latest news about weather delays, game time changes, or other pressing information is available by calling (859) 257-9014. You can also follow @VT_Softball and @UKSoftball on Twitter for the latest updates.
About Notre Dame
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 18th (26-34)
NCAA Adjusted RPI: 43rd
Strength of Schedule: 102nd
Non-Conference Strength of Schedule: 141st
Top-50 RPI Wins: Louisville (2), DePaul (3)
• Notre Dame comes to Lexington with the best team record of 43-13, but has a No. 43 RPI. With five players hitting over .300, the Irish are hitting at a .315 average with 59 home runs, 83 doubles and have outscored their opponents 326-141. National Player of the Year finalist Emilee Koener leads the team with a .451 average, 47 RBIs and a team-high 21 doubles. Big East Player of the Year Laura Winter, the starting pitcher, leads the squad with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs, while Kelsey Thornton has a team-high 17 stolen bases.
• Winter has spent most of her time in the circle, as she sports a record of 29-10 with an impressive 1.70 ERA. She has pitched 255.1 innings with 294 strikeouts, only 26 walks and has allowed 184 hits. Brittany O’Donnell (12-3 record with 3.17 ERA) and Allie Rhodes (2-0 record with 2.82 ERA) have also seen time in the circle.
• Tech and Notre Dame are old rivals from the Big East and will be conference brethren again next year when the Irish join the ACC. The Hokies are just 3-11 all-time against Notre Dame, but did win the matchup last year 3-0 thanks to home runs from Dani Anderson and Kylie McGoldrick off Laura Winter.
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 5th (8-8)
NCAA Adjusted RPI: 10th
Strength of Schedule: 3rd
Non-Conference Strength of Schedule: 26th
Top-50 RPI Wins: Florida (2), Alabama (2), Missouri, Washington, Louisville, Cal, Stanford, Arkansas, Mississippi State (3), Oregon State, USF, South Carolina (2), North Carolina, USC Upstate, San Diego State, Lipscomb
• Kentucky heads into the Regional seeded 12th in the country with a 38-18 record and has the 10th-ranked RPI with nine RPI Top-25 wins and 22 Top-50 RPI wins. Kentucky has eight losses on its home field this year (11-8), the most losses by a host team in the NCAA Tournament this season.
• Led by six players hitting over .300, Kentucky hits .268 as a team with 55 home runs, 390 hits, 240 RBIs and 65 stolen bases. Kara Dill leads the way with a .361 average, 30 hits and 29 runs. Lauren Cumbess, who also pitches, is hitting .335 with a team-high 11 home runs and 39 RBIs, while Griffin Joiner has 10 home runs and a .327 hitting percentage.
• The Wildcats are led by freshman Kelsey Nunley in the circle, who has a record of 24-8 with a 2.10 ERA. She has 175 strikeouts with 93 walks and allowed 187 hits in 230.1 innings pitched. Cumbess follows Nunley with a 4.02 ERA and a record of 10-7. She has allowed 97 hits, recorded 81 strikeouts and 46 walks in 106.1 innings.
• Tech is 2-0 all-time against the Wildcats, beating them 6-3 in nine innings back in 2000 at the State Line Classic in Bristol, Tenn., and then beating them 3-0 in 2001 at the Sonic Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.
NCAA Tournament Appearances: First (0-0)
NCAA Adjusted RPI: 90th
Strength of Schedule: 162nd
Non-Conference Strength of Schedule: 198th
Top-50 RPI Wins: Houston (3), UAB
• Coming off of winning the Conference-USA Tournament, Marshall sports a 35-20 record with the 97th-ranked RPI. With three players hitting over .300, the Thundering Herd is hitting .270 as a team with 41 home runs and 180 RBIs off of 372 hits. Ashley Gue leads the team with a .344 average and is second on the squad in walks with 21. Kaelynn Greene sports a .333 average with a team-high 57 hits and has 10 RBIs, while Jazmine Valle leads the team with 14 doubles and has a .321 hitting average.
• Andi Williamson, a transfer from the University of Tennessee, has thrown a majority of the innings for Marshall. She has a record of 32-16 and a 2.01 ERA with 344 strikeouts and 157 walks in 296.0 innings pitched. Three other players have seen limited action pitching for the Herd to bring the overall pitching staff to a 2.34 ERA.
• The Hokies are 7-4 against Marshall, last playing the Thundering Herd in 2006, a doubleheader sweep in Blacksburg.
Lexington Regional – May 17-19 – John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
Notre Dame (43-13)
Virginia Tech (35-19)
NCAA Lexington Regional Schedule
Friday, May 17
Game 1 – Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech – 5 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Game 2 – Kentucky vs. Marshall – 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Saturday, May 18
Game 3 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 1 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Game 4 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Game 5 - Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 6 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Sunday, May 19
Game 6 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 -1 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Game 7 - (If necessary) - 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Reserved (chair seating and bleacher-back seating)
• All ages 2 and older: $30
• Age 1 and under free of charge
• All ages 2 and older: $20
• Age 1 and under free of charge
Based on availability, single-session tickets will go on sale Thursday, May 16 at 9 a.m. ET.
Fans can purchase all-session passes online at UKathletics.com, in-person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or over the phone at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818.
NCAA Tournament Year-By-Year Results
Knoxville (Tenn.) Regional; 1-2 overall
vs. College of Charleston; L, 2-10 (6 Inn.)
vs. Miami University; W, 4-1
vs. College of Charleston; L, 3-6
Knoxville (Tenn.) Regional; 1-2 overall
vs. #19 Louisville; W, 1-0 (12 Inn.)
at #6 Tennessee; L, 1-9 (5 Inn.)
vs. #19 Louisville; L, 1-10 (5 Inn.)
2007; #16 Overall National Seed
Columbus (Ohio) Regional; 1-2 overall
vs. Canisius; W, 5-0
vs. #21 Ohio State; L, 1-2
vs. Cal State Fullerton; L, 0-1
Knoxville (Tenn.) Regional; 3-1 overall
vs. Louisville; W, 1-0 (10 Inn.)
at #14 Tennessee; W, 4-0
at #14 Tennessee; L, 1-7; W, 4-2
Ann Arbor (Mich.) Super Regional; 2-1 overall
at #6 Michigan; L, 0-1
at #6 Michigan (DH); W, 1-0; W, 6-1
Women’s College World Series; 0-2 overall
vs. #4 Texas A&M; L, 0-1
vs. #1 Florida; L, 0-2 (9 Inn.)
Knoxville (Tenn.) Regional; 2-2 overall
vs. UAB; W, 4-1
vs. Miami University; W, 6-0
at #5 Tennessee; L, 1-2; L, 2-10
Lexington (Ky.) Regional
vs. Notre Dame
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).