‘A lot of energy in this game.’ UK softball hosts rival Louisville in Wednesday rematch.

Twenty-eight games into the regular season, the University of Kentucky softball team (20-7-1) has positioned itself well.

Despite some tough losses ahead of the start of Southeastern Conference play as a result of head coach Rachel Lawson’s traditionally challenging offseason schedule, the Cats have found their footing and asserted themselves as one of the nation’s top programs.

In this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, the Wildcats are tied for No. 16 with Virginia Tech after losing two of three at home to now-No. 21 Texas A&M last weekend.

The Cats finished strong against the Aggies, winning Sunday’s series finale 10-2 and restoring some confidence before UK re-enters conference play.

But first, the Wildcats will look for their second win this season against a familiar foe. On Wednesday evening, the Louisville Cardinals (22-9) come to town. The Cats and Cards first battled on opening day at the 2023 NFCA Lead-Off Classic in Clearwater, Fla., when Kentucky defeated Louisville 8-0 in five innings.

Fifth-year catcher and team captain Kayla Kowalik who, in the 14-13 loss to Texas A&M became the school’s leader in career bases with a total of 455, is looking forward to Wednesday’s matchup.

“Kentucky vs. Louisville is always exciting,” Kowalik said. “There is a lot of passion and a lot of energy in this game every year. We did play them on opening day, which was different than normal, but now that there will be more intensity in the crowd since we’re in Kentucky, I just can’t wait to play in it. This is my last UK/Louisville game and so I will leave everything out on that field tomorrow night.”

Outfielder Vanessa Nesby leads the Cats in batting average at .470. Kowalik (.443) and shortstop Erin Coffel (.403) also provide powerful offense.

First pitch for Wednesday’s game at John Cropp Stadium is 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU).

After Wednesday’s game, the Wildcats will not play again at home until April 14. SEC road series at Georgia and Mississippi the next two weekends are followed by a trip to Bellarmine before Kentucky gets back to John Cropp Stadium to face Tennessee.

Top 25

This week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 (SEC teams in bold):

1. Oklahoma

2. Oklahoma State

3. Tennessee


5. Clemson

6. Stanford

7. Florida State

8. Texas

9. Washington

10. Georgia

11. Arkansas

12. LSU

T-13. Florida

T-13. Alabama

T-13. Duke

T-16. Kentucky

T-16. Virginia Tech

18. Oregon

19. Utah

20. Northwestern

21. Texas A&M

22. Baylor

23. Auburn

24. Arizona

25. Louisiana

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