May 14, 2008
Four Big Ten squads have been tabbed to compete in the 2008 NCAA Women's Softball Championship, which begins with regional action from Friday, May 16 through Sunday, May 18. Big Ten regular-season co-champion and conference tournament winner Northwestern, along with Iowa, Michigan and Purdue all received berths to the NCAA Championship.
Iowa is hosting its eighth NCAA Regional and making its 15th NCAA appearance. The Hawkeyes will host Missouri, Creighton and Long Beach State. Iowa is the No. 3 seed in the Iowa City Regional and will face the No. 2 seed Missouri of the Big 12 Conference Friday night.
Big Ten Co-Champion Michigan is the tournament's No. 4 overall seed and plays host to Wright State Friday night. Notre Dame and Kent State round out the Ann Arbor Regional. Michigan is making its 14th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its 16th in program history. The University of Michigan is hosting a regional for the seventh straight season and 14th time overall.
Northwestern, the reigning conference co-champions and Big Ten Tournament victors, has earned the No. 11 overall seed in this weekend's NCAA Tournament. The `Cats will host their first-round regional for the third-consecutive year. Northwestern opens the tournament against Western Illinois, the automatic qualifier out of the Summit League, while Drake and DePaul round out the Evanston Regional field.
Purdue is making history, earning its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance after receiving an at-large bid. The Boilermakers will compete in the Los Angeles Regional with Nevada, Cal State-Fullerton and UCLA. Purdue is the No. 3 seed in the regional and will take on second-seeded Nevada Friday evening.
This year marks the fourth year that the NCAA Regional Tournament will use its new format. Sixteen sites were chosen as host schools with four teams in each site. The winner of each regional will advance to the NCAA Super Regionals, held May 23-24 at campus sites to be determined. Eight Super Regional winners will then advance to the Women's College World Series, held May 29 through June 4 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. A Big Ten team has advanced to the last three WCWS with Michigan winning the conferences' first-ever softball national title in 2005, Northwestern claiming runner-up honors in 2006 and again reaching the semifinals in 2007.