BBL: UK softball feels no pressure; UK baseball ready

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Big Blue Links for Friday:

UK softball wins first game in WCWS: “Kelsey Nunley threw a one-hitter, Lauren Cumbess homered and had an RBI double and Kentucky won the first Women’s College World Series game in program history, beating Louisiana-Lafayette 4-1 on Thursday night. Kentucky (49-14), which won twice at longtime softball power UCLA in the super regional, posted its first win in five tries against Louisiana-Lafayette (49-9-1).”

UK next faces Alabama, which beat Oklahoma 6-2: ” Jadyn Spencer just hit a laser to left center. That thing cleared the wall by a foot. 2-run homer scored Kallie Case. Alabama 6, Oklahoma 2. OU starter Kelsey Stevens was pulled after the homer. Shelby Pendley in to pitch for the Sooners. — Attendance was just announced at 8,818.”

UK baseball decides to save A.J. Reed, the pitcher: “Kansas may have only one left-handed hitter in its lineup, and probably no more than two, Henderson said. So Cody, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who was limited to 371⁄3 innings this season because of injury, will have an advantage. Reed, a lefty who led the Southeastern Conference with 11 victories and was named National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Thursday, would face a U of L lineup that has at least five left-handed hitters.”

Kansas is wary of Reed, the slugger: “This is rare territory for Kansas, 34-24, which is playing in just its fifth NCAA regional and first since 2009. The Jayhawks have advanced past a regional just once before, during a run to the College World Series in 1993. So now, Price is hoping for more history, and he will hand the ball to converted reliever Jordan Piché, a senior right-hander who stepped into the starting rotation after junior left-hander Wes Benjamin underwent Tommy John surgery in April. Senior right-hander Frank Duncan is expected to pitch in game two on Saturday in the double-elimination format, and the Jayhawks will try to survive a loaded region.”

Mark Story on UK sports’ record year: “Of Kentucky’s 701.5 total points in the current Directors’ Cup standings, UK’s women’s teams have accounted for 57.7 percent (404.5) — and that does not take into account the 85 points earned by the coed UK rifle team. UK male athletes have supplied some stellar moments too, of course. Most notable are John Calipari’s men’s hoops Cats’ thrilling run to the NCAA title game and UK baseball star A.J. Reed’s bid for National Player of the Year honors.”

Louisville baseball faces different strategy: “Louisville coach Dan McDonnell tends to stick with his established rotation and did so last season even as No. 2 starter Jeff Thompson showed more dominant stuff than did titular ace Chad Green. McDonnell will start Kyle Funkhouser (12-2) in the Cardinals’ tournament opener against Kent State, and he said Thursday he may not select his Saturday starter until he is sure of the identity of his opponent. ‘You’ve got to do whatever you’ve got to do to win that first game,” McDonnell said.”

Cody and Shepherd give UK confidence: “The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Cody missed 21 days this season with forearm tightness. And for a period of six weeks, he threw almost exclusively fastballs as he worked himself back into form. ‘It was frustrating, but I think it made me better,’ Cody said. ‘It made me use my fastball a lot more. That’s a big pitch for me. That’s my best pitch. Once I got my curveball back, it just made it more dominant for me.’”

Florida softball wins 11-0 at WCWS: “The Florida Gators softball team has a curious sense of mercy. Florida showed no sympathy in Thursday’s opening-round victory over Baylor at the Women’s College World Series, winning 11-0 in five innings at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Freshman pinch hitter Chelsea Herndon capped a six-run fifth inning with a grand slam to invoke the mercy rule for Florida’s fifth run-rule win of the postseason.”

Pressure no problem for UK softball in debut: “Cumbess, finally playing in the Women’s College World Series as a senior after two Super Regional trips in her first two seasons, led the way. After Louisiana-Lafayette committed an error to extend the first inning and Griffin Joiner walked with two outs, Cumbess stepped to the plate. Showing no signs of nerves, Cumbess doubled into the gap in right-center for the first Women’s College World Series hit and RBI in school history.”

Changes are coming for SEC game-day experience: “It is hardly the most pressing of issues to be talked about this week at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings in Destin, Fla., but the league is expected to modify when music and artificial sound can be played during football games in the fall.  There will be more freedom for schools to crank up the music and noise after a play is over until the center stands over the football. Schools were limited before to using their sound systems during pregame, halftime, after a score and timeouts, but that would change in the name of enhancing the fan experience.”

NCAA Baseball Louisville Regional schedule

Friday, May 30 | (ESPN3)

  • Game 1: No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Kansas – 2 p.m.
  • Game 2: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Kent State – 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 31 | (ESPN3)

  • Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser – 1 p.m.
  • Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner – 5 p.m.

Sunday, June 1 | (ESPN3)

  • Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser – Noon
  • Game 6: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner – 5 p.m.

Monday, June 2 | (ESPN3) – If necessary

  • Game 7: Game 6 Loser vs. Game 6 Winner – 7 p.m.

Women’s College World Series Schedule

  • Friday 7:00 – Florida vs. Oregon (ESPN2)
  • Friday 9:30 – Kentucky vs. Alabama (ESPN2)
  • Saturday 12:00 – Baylor vs. Florida State (ESPN2)
  • Saturday 2:30 – UL-Lafayette vs. Oklahoma (ESPN2)
  • Saturday 7:00 – Baylor-Florida State winner vs. Florida-Oregon loser (ESPN)
  • Saturday 9:30 – UL-Lafayette-Oklahoma winner vs. Kentucky-Alabama loser (ESPN)

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