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- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
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Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 12 University of Kentucky softball team will continue its 2013 NCAA Tournament run at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., starting Saturday, May 25 against No. 5 national seed Arizona State, the NCAA announced Sunday night.
Kentucky (41-19) and Arizona State (48-10) will start the best-of-three series Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2, with game two of the series coming Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. If necessary, game three of the series will be played at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. All three games will also be available on WatchESPN.
Arizona State will be the home team Saturday night, while UK will be the home team in game two on Sunday. The higher seeded team has the choice of home/away in game three, if necessary. A full schedule is listed below.
Kentucky, which is making its fifth appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament, is playing in its second NCAA Super Regional in school history. The Wildcats are having arguably one of the best seasons in program history in 2013, setting a new school record for wins in a season with 41. Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley was fantastic for UK in regional action, going 3-1 with a 0.83 ERA.
Arizona State won all three of its games in the NCAA Tempe Regional over the weekend, taking down Southeastern Conference foe Georgia, twice, and San Jose State. Pitcher Dallas Escobedo was the star of the regional for ASU, winning all three games, including a no-hit effort against San Jose State and two shutout performances against Georgia.
For the latest on UK softball, follow “@UKSoftball” on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
NCAA Tempe Super Regional
Kentucky – 40-19
Arizona State – 48-10
- Game One: Saturday, May 25 – Kentucky vs. Arizona State – 10 p.m. ET – ESPN2
- Game Two: Sunday, May 26 – Arizona State vs. Kentucky – 5 p.m. ET – ESPN
- Game Three: Sunday, May 26 – Kentucky vs. Arizona State – 8 p.m. ET – ESPN2*
* If necessary
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After dropping game one of the day that forced a winner-take-all regional final, the University of Kentucky softball team got three-plus strong innings of work from junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess in the circle, who also delivered the game-winning RBI single, while freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley shut the door in the final 3.1 innings, lifting UK to a 1-0 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky (41-19) now advances to a NCAA Super Regional for only the second time in school history. The Wildcats will face the winner of the NCAA Tempe Regional between Arizona State and Southeastern Conference foe Georgia. The Super Regional will be a best-of-three game series. More information will be available Monday morning on UKathletics.com.
The win for Kentucky in game two was its 41st of the season, setting a new school record for wins in a single season. The 2011 squad, which advanced to the school’s first ever Super Regional, had 40 wins. Sunday marked the third time UK has played in a regional final, now holding a 2-2 record in those games. Kentucky is 11-9 all-time in its five NCAA appearances with all five berths coming under sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson.
Cumbess was the do-it-all star for Kentucky in the final game of the weekend, throwing 3.2 strong innings in the circle and delivering a game-winning RBI single in the fifth inning to propel UK to victory. The junior two-way player allowed only two hits in the game – both in the fourth inning – before leaving the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. Nunley came in and kept the Virginia Tech bats quiet the rest of the way, getting out of the jam in the fourth and throwing the final three innings, allowing only three hits with two strikeouts.
“When I was preparing for Virginia Tech earlier in the week, I actually thought Lauren (Cumbess) was the exact matchup for them,” Lawson said. “Lauren has such a good drop ball and Virginia Tech is such a good hitting team. I wanted to keep the ball in the infield, so I actually had thought about starting her in the first place. But, when you are the head coach at Kentucky and you have a 27-game winner, and I start the one who doesn’t have 27, I am going to have my head on a platter if I am wrong. I have a lot of faith in both of them. I felt good about Lauren coming in. To be honest with you, I pulled Lauren aside before today and I said, ‘If this goes into two games, you are starting the second game and it is your job to come in and shut the door.’ So, whereas she just thinks she was giving (Kelsey) Nunley a rest, that was actually plan B. I don’t like to have plan B, but I always have plan B in case things don’t go our way. So, that was my plan going into the game. I didn’t tell anyone else that plan, but it seems like they were reading my mind I suppose.”
Cumbess did not earn a decision in the game, while Nunley picked up her 27th win of the season, moving her school-record win total to 27-9. Cumbess is still 10-7 on the year with a 3.88 ERA, striking out 82 in 110 innings pitched, while Nunley, who has thrown a school-record high 255.1 innings this season, has a 1.97 ERA – which ranks second lowest in a single-season in school history. Nunley now has 190 strikeouts on the season, which ranks fifth most in school history. Nunley needs 10 more strikeouts to become only the second player in UK history to record 200-plus strikeouts in a single season.
Cumbess and Nunley received some fantastic efforts defensively in the second game to keep the Wildcats on top. On top of the Wildcat infield turning two double plays in the game, junior outfielder Ginny Carroll made a diving catch in the first inning to rob a Hokie player of a single, while freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel made a great catch up against the centerfield wall in the third inning to rob a Hokie player of a double. In the fourth inning, freshman infielder Christian Stokes made a diving catch in shallow leftfield to take away a single.
“Our defense was huge,” Lawson said. “I thought Christian Stokes’ play when she dove and got the play behind her was big. In game one, we didn’t make that catch, and that’s why they scored two runs. So, the fact that she made that catch and really stepped up on her birthday was cool. I think the fact that Griffin Joiner did such a good job behind the plate (catch every game in the tournament) was awesome. She did a really good job. I think, too, Silver Samuel made a big catch at the wall. I always tell the team that you never know when the game-winning play is going to happen. I believe those were the game-winning plays. And then Nunley coming in and closing the door – being able to come in with the bases loaded and jamming them in and being able to get them to popup was huge.”
Offensively, Kentucky had eight hits in the game, getting multi-hit games from Carroll and Stokes, who each went 2-for-3. Senior infielder Kara Dill, sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner and Samuel each had singles, while Samuel scored the game’s only run on the RBI single by Cumbess.
Virginia Tech (38-21) started pitcher Jasmin Harrell in the game, who went seven innings, allowing only one unearned run on eight hits with two strikeouts. Harrell, who threw all 13 innings against Marshall on Saturday night to get Virginia Tech into the regional final, picked up the tough-luck loss, moving to 18-9 on the season.
The Hokies earned five hits the game, getting a multi-hit day from Baily Liddle, who went 2-for-3, while Dani Anderson, Courtney Liddle and Bkaye Smith each had singles.
Kentucky scored its lone run of the game in the fifth inning, moving to 26-5 this season when it scores first in the game. Samuel started the rally by reaching on an error by the second baseman, moving to second on Dill’s groundout. After Joiner flied out to deep leftfield to move Samuel to third, Cumbess hit a laser at the first baseman that deflected off the edge of her glove and rolled into foul territory for a single, scoring Samuel.
Virginia Tech forced the seventh game of the regional with an impressive performance in the first game of the day, taking down the Wildcats 2-0 behind a strong pitching effort from Kelly Heinz. The Hokie hurler threw a complete game in the contest, allowing only three hits with three strikeouts, besting Nunley, who started for UK in game one, allowing two earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
For the latest on UK softball, follow “@UKSoftball” on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
(Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.)
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw seven strong innings, allowing only one hit and no earned runs, while junior infielder Krystal Smith went 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run and two RBI, as the No. 12 Kentucky softball team posted its school-record tying 40th win of the season and clinched its ticket to the NCAA Lexington Regional Finals on Sunday with a 6-2 win over Virginia Tech at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky (40-18) now advances to the regional finals on Sunday against either Notre Dame, Virginia Tech or Marshall depending on results from the rest of day two action from the Lexington Regional. The regional final will begin Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. If UK drops the first game of the regional final, a winner-take-all game two will be played at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The win for Kentucky was its 40th of the season, tying the school record for most wins in a season. Head coach Rachel Lawson’s 2011 team also had 40 wins en route to advancing to the school’s first ever Super Regional. UK’s win against Virginia Tech was its first in school history over the Hokies in three tries.
This is the third time UK has advanced to a regional final, also accomplishing the feat in 2009 and 2011. The Wildcats lost the first game of the 2009 regional final to Ohio State while it defeated Michigan in game one of the Ann Arbor Regional Final in 2011. The Wildcats are now 10-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Nunley was fantastic in the circle for the second straight game, throwing a complete-game one-hitter, allowing two runs – both unearned – with five strikeouts. For the season, Nunley is now 26-8 with a 2.00 ERA, striking out 185 in 245.1 innings pitched. So far this weekend, Nunley is an impressive 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA, striking out 10 batters in 15 innings pitched while opponents are hitting just .140 against her.
Offensively, Kentucky was paced by Smith and fellow junior first baseman Lauren Cumbess. Smith went 2-for-3 in the game with her third home run of the season and two RBI, while Cumbess blasted her team-best 12th home run of the season to finish 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel was 2-for-3 in the game with a run scored, while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner was 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Virginia Tech posted two runs in the second inning on one hit and a Kentucky error. Bkaye Smith delivered the two-RBI infield single to tie the game before Nunley retired 16 of the last 17 batters she faced to seal the UK win.
The Hokies started Kelly Heinz in the game, who went 3.1 innings, allowing four runs – three earned – on four hits with four strikeouts. She was relieved in the fourth inning by Maggie Tyler, who worked one inning, allowing two runs – one earned – on two hits with one strikeout. Jasmin Harrell threw the final 2.2 innings of work, allowing no runs on one hit.
Kentucky scored first in the game posting two runs on two hits in the opening inning. After Joiner set the table with a one-out walk, Cumbess stepped to the plate and hit a high-towering fly to leftfield that cleared the fence to give UK a 2-0 lead. Heinz then got a lineout and strikeout to end the inning.
Virginia Tech tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second inning after starting the frame with two runners on base on a walk and a UK error. Nunley got a strikeout and a groundout for two outs before a hard-hit chopper took a bad bounce away from a UK infielder to score two runs and tie the game 2-2.
UK answered to take the lead back in the third inning on an infield single and two Virginia Tech errors. Samuel started the rally with an infield single back to the pitcher, stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Dill then hit a soft liner to the Virginia Tech third baseman that went off the infielder’s glove, scoring Samuel to give UK a 3-2 lead.
The Wildcats scored three more runs over the next two innings to take a 6-2 lead and seal the Kentucky victory. UK posted its fourth run on the home run by Smith, who laced a one-out solo shot to leftfield. Smith was also responsible for UK’s two runs in the fifth inning, getting an RBI single to the leftside of the infield with the bases loaded that scored two runs when the shortstop’s throw went wide.
For the latest on UK softball, follow “@UKSoftball” on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
By LARRY VAUGHT
For Terry Barker, it’s hard to put into words what it has been like to see his son, Conner quarterback Drew Barker, go from a relatively unknown player to a high-profile national recruit.
“As a father who grew up a sports fanatic and loved every sport and played sports, you dream one day of having a son that maybe will surpass you and what you accomplished,” said Terry Barker. “I just tried to put him in the right places and it’s been a great journey.”
That journey will now take Drew Barker to the University of Kentucky. He announced Friday during a ceremony at his school that he would sign with UK in February. He picked coach Mark Stoops’ program over South Carolina and Tennessee.
“I can remember when Drew was born in March of 1996 and the Kentucky Wildcats were on TV. They were in the NCAA and playing San Jose in the first round. I was there at the hospital watching and will never forget that,” Terry Barker said. “Even then, Drew had really large hands. He was like a big German Shepard puppy with big paws. You could just look at his hands and tell some day he could be a quarterback. I just said that spontaneously there at the hospital.
“I wanted him involved in sports. But I said we would expose him to sports and if he did not like something, we would not force him to stick with it. Sports were good for me and you get things out of being a team member. You learn self discipline and all the other things in general that sports teaches you. He was playing basketball, football, baseball to see what he liked and he played all three really well.”
Eventually, Drew Barker gave up baseball. He had a solid basketball career — both high school and AAU. However, he gave up AAU basketball last summer to focus on football.
“He wants to graduate in December and get on to college to start earning his degree and learning the playbook,” Terry Barker said. “But this whole thing has just been magical. We are so blessed to have gone through this great journey with him. I don’t want to use a cliche, but he is the son every father dreams of. He’s respectful, humble. He gets it done in the classroom and on the field. I have never have to make him get up. He’s up at 5:30 to go work out almost every day. He’s a self starter. He’s just a unique kid that loves to work hard.”
Terry Barker has always told his son this saying: “There is no traffic on the extra mile.” He says his son took that motto to heart.
“He gets out there and feels he will go that extra mile and then nobody else will be working as hard as he is,” Terry Barker said. “It just seems like everything he touches turns to gold.”
His father says he has the “special personality” needed to play quarterback. His numbers indicate that. The 6-4, 210-pound Conner star was 140-for-225 passing for 2,067 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2012 when he also ran for 1,422 yards and 18 scores. As a sophomore, he completed 93 of 181 passes for 1,009 yards and four scores and ran for 1,371 yards and 22 touchdowns. That’s 2,793 yards and 40 touchdowns rushing the last two years and 3,076 yards and 26 touchdowns passing.
“Quarterback is such a demanding position. There are so many things coming at you and you have so many split-second decisions to make that the whole team depends on you making right,” Terry Barker said. “He’s real even keel. He never gets real high or real low. He stays steady. He won’t get rattled. He stays calm.
“I think his personality benefitted him during his recruitment. He takes everything in stride and stays humble. He gets the message from me to keep everything real and in perspective. His personality fits that. A lot of kids cannot handle the pressure and it gets to them, but he has handled it well.”
His father says Drew Barker has always believed in his ability. He’s young enough to actually have eligibility for two more years of high school, but because of his size — he was almost a 10-pound baby — he’s always played with and against older players.
“That gave him confidence. He did not always win or beat them, but he competed against older kids always,” Terry Barker said. “That just made him better and stronger and gave him confidence in himself that he could compete.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
In just a few weeks, one player that could make a huge impact on Kentucky football should arrive on campus.
Butler County Community College receiver Javess Blue is a player that offensive coordinator Neal Brown is counting on to make an immediate impact next season.
“Any time you go out and sign junior college guys, especially high level junior college guys, you expect them to step in and immediately compete for playing time. He is a kid that (assistant coach) Chad Scott did phenomenal job recruiting. A guy we actually signed at Texas Tech and didn’t do what he needed to do academically,” Brown said.
“He went to Butler and had a solid freshman year and this year I thought he was the best junior college receiver in the country. Really proud of how he handled himself. Physically, he is ready. He looks how you should look. It is just a matter of him getting here in the summer, learning what we are going to do and then going out in fall camp and competing.”
How is he different than incoming freshmen receivers Ryan Timmons and Alex Montgomery?
“He is older. That is the biggest thing. He has had to play against better competition just because of junior college,” Brown said. “You are talking about at Butler where they were runner-up in the country. He is just an older, more mature kid. That is the only real difference with him, but it is a big difference.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
It seems that Kentucky junior safety Ashley Lowery is doing as well as anyone could expect after Friday night’s horrific automobile accident in Georgia that put him in ICU.
Here’s the message UK secondary coach Bradley Dave Peveto (@UKCoachPeveto) posted on Twitter Sunday: “A positive day for Ashely ! Keep the prayers coming ! He’ll be back on his feet at 100% in no time ! That guy’s a stud!”
I also got an email from UK fan Ariel Calahan, who had been in contact with former Wildcat Martavius Neloms — he had been in contact with Lowery and his mother — with this update: “He has his breathing tube out. He is awake and talking. He can answer the questions asked correctly. No brain damage. No broken bones. Hoping to have him in a regular room tomorrow. He is staying in ICU tonight. Hoping to have him up walking tomorrow also. Still not sure how long he will be off the field. Hoping not for long! Martavius Neloms has actually talked on the phone with him and said he was cutting up jokes with him.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Okay, the main question for Kentucky fans remains: What will Andrew Wiggins do?
But for true UK football fans, there’s another question that is going to linger even longer without an answer: Who will be the starting quarterback when UK opens the Mark Stoops era against Western Kentucky on Aug. 31 in Nashville?
No, I don’t know. But here’s what offensive coordinator Brown says about the attributes a great quarterback should have in his system:
“Off the field things are the number one thing. He has to been a man of character. He has to be a tremendous leader. He’s got to work tremendously hard. Those are the things. Second thing, he has to be a good decision-maker. These are football aspects now. He has to be a good decision-maker. He has to be accurate with the football. Those are the two top priorities. That’s what we’ll instill in these guys, the three guys that are here. From a recruiting standpoint from here on out, those are the top priorities to look for.”
While Mark Stoops isn’t content with just having Kentucky positioned well with 2014 recruits. The Kentucky coach also wants the nation’s best 2015 recruits to know he’s paying attention.
Kentucky has offered Mount Dora, Fla., cornerback Von Davis, a sophomore, a scholarship. It was the first offer for the 6-0, 175-pound Davis but won’t be his last as Florida, Florida State, Louisville and South Carolina are just some of the schools also interested in Davis.
“It was a huge surprise to get the Kentucky offer,” said Davis. “To have my first offer from a SEC school, I was shocked. I don’t really know much about Kentucky football. I’ve seen them play on TV. I’ve actually watched their basketball team and stuff more. I don’t know that much yet about the football, but I will.”
Davis started both ways as a freshman last season. He caught 29 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns and had 35 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and also starts on the basketball team.
“I played receiver, quarterback, defensive back. Kentucky likes me at cornerback,” Davis said. “I’ve heard how Mark Stoops is going to improve Kentucky. It will always mean a lot to me that Kentucky was my first offer. I will always have them right there. They are the first to offer. Without them, other schools might not even be looking at me.
“I hope for more offers. I will just sit back now and see what happens. I am pretty sure other offers will come now that I have one SEC offer.”
Davis said Kentucky coaches plan to visit soon to watch him during spring practice, and he expects that to only add to the excitement about his offer.
“A lot of people have given me shout-outs on Facebook and Twitter. My family is pretty excited, but they told me not to settle just for one offer. They want to make sure I keep working,” Davis said.
Davis knows playing two sports is fun in high school, but he knows Kentucky basketball is a whole different level.
“I am pretty good in basketball, but not good enough for Kentucky basketball,” Davis laughed and said. “I know a lot about Kentucky basketball. That is my favorite team. The organization is always winning under (John) Calipari and he gets top recruits every year and has the best SEC team.”
|Oct. 18||Big Blue Madness||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Oct. 28||Blue-White Game||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 1||Transylvania||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 4||Montevallo||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 8||UNC-Asheville||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 10||Northern Kentucky||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 12||vs. Michigan State 1||United Center (Chicago)|
|Nov. 17||Robert Morris 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 19||Texas-Arlington 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 25||Cleveland State 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 27||Eastern Michigan 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Dec. 1||vs. Providence 3||Barclays Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.)|
|Dec. 6||vs. Baylor 4||Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas.)|
|Dec. 10||Boise State||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Dec. 14||at North Carolina||Dean Smith Center (Chapel Hill, N.C.)|
|Dec. 21||Belmont||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Dec. 28||Louisville||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
Home games are in BOLD
Exhibition games are in ITALICS
Kentucky has announced its 2013-14 men’s basketball non-conference schedule. The schedule features a season-opening game in Rupp Arena against UNC-Asheville on Nov. 8 followed by a home date on Nov. 10 against Northern Kentucky. It marks the first time since the 2009-10 season the Wildcats open at home with multiple games.
For the third straight year, Kentucky participates in the State Farm Champions Classic, taking on Michigan State on Nov. 12 in Chicago.
UK will return home for four straight games as a part of the Keightley Classic beginning on Nov. 17 with Robert Morris. The rest of the tournament – named in honor of Bill Keightley, the former equipment manager known as “Mr. Wildcat” – includes games against Texas-Arlington (Nov. 19), Cleveland State (Nov. 25) and Eastern Michigan (Nov. 27), who is co-hosting the tournament.
Kentucky will ring in December with a pair of neutral-site games, including a Dec. 1 matchup with Providence in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a Dec. 6 date in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas against Baylor. The game against Baylor will be part of a doubleheader featuring both the men’s and women’s teams against the Baylor Bears.
The Wildcats return to Rupp Arena on Dec. 10 to host Boise State before renewing the annual rivalry with North Carolina on Dec. 14 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
UK closes out the 2013 calendar year in Rupp Arena with a Dec. 21 date against Belmont before hosting the annual Louisville game on Dec. 28.
Beginning in January, the Wildcats will face an 18-game Southeastern Conference schedule with nine home games and nine road games. The conference schedule will be announced at a later date.
Prior to regular-season action, Kentucky hosts a pair of exhibition games. The first will be Nov. 1 against in-town rival Transylvania for the third straight year followed by a matchup against Montevallo on Nov. 4.