A season which saw Kentucky play the second-hardest schedule in the country, win nine games against the top-20, become the third team in NCAA history to run-rule its way to an NCAA Regional and appear in the school’s sixth NCAA Super Regional ended on Saturday night in the Eugene Super Regional.
Saturday night also marked the end of a storied career for three Kentucky seniors, Brooklin Hinz, Rachael Metzger and Erin Rethlake. The graduating senior class for UK advanced to four-consecutive NCAA Tournaments, the 2015, 2017 and 2018 Super Regionals, won 38 games over top-25 teams, had 62 wins at beautiful John Cropp Stadium and won over 150 games in their time in Lexington.
In the best measuring stick of NCAA softball teams, the ratings percentage index (RPI) – the Wildcats finished the season ranked No. 13 in the nation – key to earning the program’s fifth opportunity to host the regional round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky is one of just nine schools and one of four in the Southeastern Conference to go 3-0 in NCAA regional play in three of the last four seasons. Continuing with its consistent success, the Wildcats are just one of 19 teams in the country to have made the NCAA Tournament in 10-straight seasons.
As part of the Southeastern Conference this season, Kentucky played the toughest mathematical schedule – with the average ranking of its opponents registering 8.25. All road series that the Wildcats had were against teams in the top-11 of the RPI and the Wildcats current RPI of opponents in the SEC was 11.25 – showing why SEC softball is the best in the country.
One of the biggest reasons for the success of the 2018 season was the continued improvement of the Kentucky offense. The Wildcats jumped up over 150 spots in NCAA scoring, ranked 22nd in batting average, 30th nationally in on-field percentage – and fourth in the SEC in stolen bases.
The defense continued to be a cornerstone of the program – as this season, the Wildcats set a new program record with a .977 fielding percentage – which finished the regular season as the 12th-best in the country. Katie Reed continued to be the best shortstop in the country, winning All-SEC Defensive Team honors this season to go on top of her 2017 honor as an NFCA All-American.
The top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Oregon, wins the Eugene Super Regional on its own turf at Jane Sanders Stadium and advances to the 2018 Women’s College World Series with an 11-1 win in game three.
Six. This was Kentucky’s sixth NCAA Super Regional under head coach Rachel Lawson, which accounts for all six in program history. Lawson is the winningest head coach in program history and has taken the Wildcats to 10-straight NCAA Tournaments.
Oregon’s DJ Sanders hit a grand slam in the bottom of the second inning.
Brooklin Hinz was the key player in the game for Kentucky, scoring the only UK run of the game on her fourth home run of the season. It came in her final collegiate at bat.
Oregon scored seven runs on six hits in the top of the second inning, headed by a grand slam from DJ Sanders. OU 7, UK 0
The Ducks scored three runs on three hits in the top of the third inning. ORE 10, UK 0
Kentucky scored its only run of the game in the top of the fourth inning on Brooklin Hinz’s fourth home run of the season. ORE 10, UK 1
A Kentucky error led to the final Oregon run. FINAL – #1 Oregon 11, #16 Kentucky 1
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‑ GO CATS –
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