The Kentucky Wildcats have earned the No. 14 overall seed in the 2021 NCAA Softball Tournament.
Throughout the 2021 NCAA Softball season, the Kentucky Wildcats were solid and proved to be one of the better teams in the Southeastern Conference. Though they weren’t the best, Kentucky did well enough, and won enough, to get the No. 14 overall seed for the 2021 NCAA Softball Tournament.
And because they earned the No. 14 overall seed, the Kentucky Wildcats will be hosting the 2021 Lexington Regional. Kentucky will be joined by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Miami RedHawks, and the Northwestern Wildcats.
Get to know the four teams in the 2021 Lexington Regional
Kentucky, with a 39-13 record, played well throughout the season, even if they barely broke even against SEC competition. It’s no shocker that facing SEC foes is a tough task for any softball team. In 2021, UK went 13-11 in conference play.
That means the Wildcats have gone 26-2 against non-conference foes, something that bodes well for a team that will have three non-conference teams in town this weekend.
- March 28 vs. Alabama – 4-2
- March 29 vs. Alabama – 5-4 in eight innings
- April 3 vs. Tennessee – 13-2 in five innings
- March 24 at Western Kentucky – 1-2 in nine innings
- April 25 vs. LSU – 4-10
- April 2 vs. Tennessee – 1-6
Players to watch
- Kayla Kowalik – Kowalik has an astonishing .505 batting average through 182 at bats. She’s hit 12 home runs and, when she is on base, is often able to make her way down the base paths as she’s stolen 20 bases on 22 attempts.
- Erin Coffel – Coffel leads Kentucky with 16 home runs. She’s got a very respectable .354 batting average and has a team-best 53 RBIs.
- Autumn Humes – Humes has 156.2 innings pitched on her resume so far and has struck out 139 batters. Humes also has a 2.93 ERA.
The Wildcats are the team to beat, which makes sense given that they’re the host in this regional. This team has the talent and, prior to a stumbling loss against eventual the eventual SEC champ in the SEC tournament, Kentucky was riding some momentum via a seven-game winning streak. The other three teams in this regional are good, and Kentucky can’t take them lightly, but the Wildcats are a team that should be respected.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame isn’t a team that can be overlooked in the 2021 NCAA Softball Tournament. The No. 2 seed in the Lexington Regional, the Fighting Irish have a 31-13 overall record and went 20-10 against conference foes this year. Notre Dame was perfect at home, posting an unblemished 15-0 record there, but struggled on the road and in neutral site games, going just 16-13 combined in those games.
- April 23 at Virginia Tech – 2-1
- April 23 at Virginia Tech – 6-5
- April 25 at Virginia Tech – 3-1
- February 13 vs. Alabama – 0-10 in five innings in Montgomery, Alabama
- April 3 at Florida State – 0-8 in five innings
- April 4 at Florida State – 0-5
Players to watch
- Emma Clark – Clark has a knack for getting on base and then advancing along the base paths She has a .406 batting average and a .438 on-base percentage. To go with those stats, she has stolen 24 bases on 30 attempts this year.
- Abby Sweet – Sweet is another productive hitter and base runner with a .463 batting average, .556 on-base percentage, and 19 stolen bases off of 21 attempts.
- Alexis Holloway – Holloway doesn’t boast the best ERA on her team (though it is pretty good at 2.66), but she does have the most strikeouts with 105 in 115.2 innings pitched.
Notre Dame could be a very real challenger for the 2021 Lexington Regional. The only problem the Fighting Irish will face comes in the fact that they haven’t exactly been all that great playing away from home, and Lexington, Kentucky isn’t where Notre Dame is located. If the Fighting Irish can get past that hurdle, they’ll be tough to face.
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
The RedHawks from Miami have won an astonishing number of games this season. With a 46-8 record, they have the most wins of any team from the 2021 NCAA softball season. What Miami has done is noteworthy. But, despite all those wins, they were handed the No. 3 seed here in the Lexington Regional and will be fighting for respect in the tournament.
- February 21 at Tennessee – 2-0
- February 26 at Georgia Tech – 9-3
- March 7 at Louisville – 4-0
- February 13 at Mississippi State – 9-10
- February 13 at Mississippi State – 3-10
- February 21 at Tennessee – 3-7
Players to watch
- Courtney Vierstra – Vierstra has proven herself to be an elite pitcher this year. With a 1.59 ERA and 261 strikeouts through 171.2 innings pitched, she’s definitely difficult to beat.
- Brianna Pratt – Pratt is also a very solid pitcher who is a challenge to face. She’s got a 2.81 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 112 innings pitched.
- Karli Spaid – Spaid has been a productive hitter all season. She has a .416 batting average, a .927 slugging percentage, and 17 home runs this year.
There are no bad teams who have won more than 40 games. This team has been so close to winning 50 games. If their season hadn’t been disrupted with canceled and postponed games, then Miami probably does have at least 50 wins at this point. The RedHawks will face some tough challenges in this regional and they may have a hard time breaking that 50-win threshold. But, nobody should look at this team and assume it’ll be an easy win.
The Northwestern Wildcats round out the 2021 Lexington Regional. The Wildcats arrive in Lexington with the worst record of the bunch at 29-15, but they also had a very unique schedule considering they only faced Big Ten teams.
- April 16 at Iowa – 7-0
- April 17 at Iowa – 9-7
- April 17 at Iowa – 7-4
- April 24 at Michigan – 2-7
- April 24 at Michigan – 3-6
- April 25 at Michigan – 0-2
Players to watch
- Danielle Williams – Williams has a 2.15 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 143 innings pitched.
- Rachel Lewis – Lewis is not only one of Northwestern’s best hitters, she’s also by far the best at stealing bases. She has a .344 battings average, seven home runs, and 28 stolen bases on 29 attempts.
- Morgan Newport – Newport leads the Wildcats in terms of RBIs. To go with a .324 batting average and a team-best 10 home runs, Newport has 38 RBIs this year.
Northwestern has a tough task ahead of it. The Wildcats have some talent and have won some decent games, but the teams they’re matched up with have all looked better throughout the entirety of the season.