May 30, 2006
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For the third-consecutive year, a Big Ten team will compete in the Women's College World Series. Last weekend, Northwestern defeated UMass in Super Regional action to advance to the Wildcats' fourth WCWS in program history. Michigan, the 2005 national champion, nearly earned its third-consecutive series appearance, however fell to Tennessee in game three of the Knoxville Regional last Sunday.
The Wildcats will be making a return engagement to the WCWS for the first time in 20 years as NU earned three-consecutive appearances from 1984-86. Northwestern posted its highest-finish ever in the World Series with a third-place showing in 1984.
Four different Big Ten schools have made a combined 18 appearances in the WCWS with the Wolverines capturing the conference's first national title last year. Michigan (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005) leads the conference with eight WCWS appearances, while Iowa (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and Northwestern (1984, 1985, 1986, 2005) have both made four, and Indiana follows with two showings (1983, 1986). At least one conference school has qualified for the WCWS in 13 of the 25 years that the championship has been sponsored by the NCAA. From 1983-86, at least one school represented the conference and in the last 11 years, only three times (1999, 2000, 2003) has the Big Ten not had a member squad advance to the World Series.
The Wildcats will open WCWS play on Thursday, June 1 against Alabama at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The winner will then take on either No. 1 UCLA or No. 8 Tennessee on Friday. Every game of the series will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.