UK softball to have rematch with Oregon in NCAA Super Regionals


Kentucky Wildcats short stop Katie Reed celebrates after hitting a single in the sixth inning of game two of the Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium on Friday, May 19, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

In February, the UK softball team traveled to Cathedral City, California for a neutral-site series with some of the best teams in the nation, one of which was the No. 3 Oregon Ducks. The Cats were defeated 5-4, but played an impressive game despite their youth and status as an underdog in the matchup.

On Friday, the Cats will face Oregon on their home field in Eugene, where they’ll look to win the weekend series and advance to the Women’s College World Series for the second time in the last four years.

Oregon is a defensive powerhouse, and on the strength of their fielding, was one of the final teams in the nation to be defeated once this season.

The Ducks boast a gaudy 50-6 record, and they placed second in the final Pac-12 standings behind Arizona. They’re 24-2 at home, and are currently on a 13-game win streak that will be tough to stop.

Players to Watch:

Katie Reed (shortstop, So., UK): Reed has been a dominant force for the Cats all season, and continues to be what many would consider the best player for the Cats. She leads the team in batting average, and is a defensive force in the infield. She was honored with a spot on the All-SEC First Team for her incredible efforts on both sides of the ball, and isn’t likely to slow down in Eugene. Last game against the Ducks, she racked up two hits in her four at-bats and a run.

Danica Mercado (infielder, Sr., Oregon): Mercado is having a career year, averaging career highs in both hitting and fielding percentage. She devastated the Cats last time the two teams matched up, batting .750 and scoring two runs for the Ducks, all from playing a largely unfamiliar position in right field. She’s won a silver medal with a U.S. National team, and has been as consistent as they come all year.

Maggie Balint (pitcher, Fr., Oregon): Balint is a devastating force in the circle, and is already one of the better pitchers in the nation. She’s one of the three players across the country still being considered for the NFCA Freshman of the Year award, and with good reason. Balint boasts a 21-3 record, the best of the lethal Oregon pitching staff. She’s also notched 150 strikeouts, and while she’s no Kelly Barnhill, Balint will devastate any UK batter looking to gain traction.

Both teams have evolved a great deal since they met last, and two of the nation’s top defenses will certainly give each other all they can handle.

The best-of-three series will begin Friday at 7 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPNU. The victor of the competitive series will become one of the eight teams to travel to Oklahoma City to compete in the Women’s College World Series.