May 18, 2004
Park Ridge, IL - Six Big Ten softball programs have been tabbed to compete in the 2004 NCAA Women's Softball Championship, which begins with regional action from Thursday, May 20 through Sunday, May 23. Big Ten champion Michigan, Big Ten Tournament champion Michigan State, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa and Ohio State all received berths in the Championship.
Michigan earned the top seed in Region No. 6 and will host opening-round action at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines will take on eighth-seeded Canisius on Thursday in their opening game. Despite being eliminated in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament last week, Michigan solidified its status as one of the top squads in the NCAA field by sweeping two games against then-No. 2 Florida State over the final weekend of the regular season. The Wolverines are the Big Ten's all-time leader in Women's College World Series appearances with five.
Illinois is the No. 2 seed in Region 3 and will compete against Texas-San Antonio on Baylor's campus in Waco, Texas. Northwestern garnered a No. 3 seed in Region 1 and will match up against sixth-seeded UC-Santa Barbara in Tucson, Ariz. Iowa and Michigan state were each awarded No. 5 seeds in their respective regions. The Hawkeyes will line up against No. 4 seed Mississippi State in Region 5, which will be hosted by Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. The Spartans will take on No. 4 Texas in Region 8, which is being held in Athens, Ga., on the campus of the University of Georgia. Ohio State, the No. 6 seed in Region 4, rounds out the Big Ten contingent. The Buckeyes will face third-seeded South Florida on Florida State's home field in Tallahassee, Fla.
The regional winners advance to the Women's College World Series, which is an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The WCWS will be conducted May 27-31 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.