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UK Softball vs. Notre Dame - NCAA Regional Finale: Preview & Gamethread

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And then there were two! After their dominant 5-0 victory against Ball State early yesterday, the Hittin' Kittens got to take the rest of the day off to rest and prepare for today's Championship series. Regional host Notre Dame had to battle their way out of the loser's bracket by merely slamming in 29 runs to decimate Northwestern and Ball State. The South Bend Regional is set to go out with a bang today - can the Cats hold on?

Let's hope the Cats shatter the balls this well in South Bend!
Let's hope the Cats shatter the balls this well in South Bend!
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Yesterday brought us the Kelsey Nunley we were so familiar with in the 2014 post-season. The Soddy Daisy native looked incredibly confident in the circle as she threw 7 strikeouts and allowed Ball State a mere 2 hits in Kentucky's blanking of the Cards. Her sisters did a terrific job of backing up their fearless leader, as Brooklin Hinz went 3/3 from the plate while Nikki Sagermann and Sylver Samuel extended their hitting streaks to match their season-best record.

Trivia note: Brooklin is from a little town in Kansas you may have heard of - Olathe. This writer has to ask: What the heck do they put in their water over there?

Let's hope the Cats didn't use up all their runs yesterday, as the Notre Dame offense made a masterful recovery from Friday's 3-6 loss to Ball State. The Domers hit 29 runs in 10 innings, with the mercy rule being invoked in both games. (Note: I wrongly stated yesterday in the thread there was no mercy rule in the tournament. That is true in baseball but not softball. My apologies for the error!) That performance brought the Irish to a program record 392 runs in 56 games. There's a reason their offense is famous this season, and yesterday's games showed why.

Notre Dame players to watch include third baseman Katey Haus, who hit a paltry .833 yesterday with a double, 6 RBI and scored 5 runs while adding 6 assists on defense. ND's two time All-American Emilee Koerner scored six times as she brought in 5 runs and had three awfully pretty doubles. I'd keep typing about all the runs hit by their other All-American but I think you get the idea: The Irish can really hit the ball. A lot. And consistently. They're good at it.

The Cats have their work cut out for them if they want to make it to the Super Regional. Today's victor gets to take on Florida the winner of the Gainesville Regional it's totally Florida. Our keys to victory:

  • Minimize those Irish cannons. This responsibility will fall mostly on the pitching team, but they'll need effective backup from the field. I've little doubt Kelsey will lead off today, but Coach Lawson has to have Meagan Prince and Erin Rethlake primed to back her up if needed.
  • Hit the ball. I know, that seems so Bull Durham but sometimes this game really is that simple: You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Let's hope the Kittens embrace this wisdom a little faster than Nuke LaLoosh.
  • NO ERRORS. The Cats got the benefit of a whole lot of Card errors yesterday - four of them to be exact. We are going to have a hard enough time today without bringing more pain onto ourselves. Play mentally smart.
  • A little bit of luck. We're due. We'd have to drop 2 games today to not make it to the Super Regional, but hopefully Irish eyes won't be smiling after the first game.

Today's game starts at 1 PM EST, and if needed, the final game will be at 4 PM. Sadly none of this is televised - booooo! - but you can catch the streaming action live by clicking here.

Until 1 Eastern - GO BIG BLUE!

P.S. I just found this and it's too brilliant to NOT share: Track, Softball and Football had a lip synch battle at the Catspys. Just watch!