Five Big Ten Softball Teams Earn NCAA Berths
May 16, 2005
Five Big Ten softball programs have been tabbed to compete in the 2005 NCAA Women's Softball Championship, which begins with regional action from Thursday, May 19 through Sunday, May 22. Michigan, which won the Big Ten regular season title and the League Tournament crown, along with Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin all received berths to the NCAA Championship.
Michigan, making its 11th straight appearance in the NCAA Championship and its first as the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, will host Canisius on Friday in the second game at Alumni Field. UM and Canisius will be joined by Seton Hall and North Carolina in the double-elimination event, with the tournament winner earning the right to advance to an NCAA Super Regional the following weekend (May 27-28). The Maize and Blue spent the last eight weeks of the regular season as the No. 1-ranked team in the country and boasts a 55-4 overall record heading into NCAA play. The Wolverines are also the Big Ten's all-time leader in Women's College World Series appearances with five.
Advancing to its sixth consecutive NCAA Championship, Iowa will open the tournament in Lincoln, Neb. With a region consisting of host Nebraska, No. 16-seeded Washington and Creighton, the Hawkeyes, who have posted a 48-12 overall record, will take on the Huskers in opening round action on Friday. This is the fourth time Iowa has traveled to Lincoln for an NCAA Regional and the third year in a row.
Northwestern garnered a No. 9 seed and will face Albany (N.Y.) on Friday in South Bend, Ind. Host Notre Dame will take on Louisville in the second game of the South Bend Regional. This is NU's third trip to the NCAA Tournament under fourth-year head coach Kate Drohan, while also marking the Wildcats' eighth overall appearance. Northwestern's record is currently 38-15, its best victory total since 1995, when the Wildcats also won 38 games. The school record for victories is 43, set in 1987.
Penn State received its sixth NCAA softball bid in program history and will travel to College Station, Texas to face Centenary (La.) on Friday. Host Texas A&M will open regional action against McNeese State in the first game. Posting a 34-21 overall mark during the 2005 season, the Nittany Lions clinched their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2003 and fifth in the past six years.
Wisconsin will host DePaul, No. 8 Oregon State and UW-Green Bay at Goodman Diamond. The Badgers earned their spot in the field by winning 18 of 20 games down the stretch before falling to top-ranked Michigan in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. UW (31-22), which will face DePaul in the opening round of NCAA play on Friday, has earned its third NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and the first since 2002.
This is the first year of the Super Regional format for Division I softball. The regional winners will advance to super regional competition for a best-of-three series May 27-28 at eight campus sites. The remaining eight teams will then advance to the WCWS, an eight-team, double-elimination tournament on June 2-8 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. The championship final will also be a best-of-three-series for the first time this year.