Missouri will play host to an NCAA Division I softball regional tournament for the sixth straight season after being selected Sunday as the No. 15 overall seed on the road to the Women’s College World Series.
“Going into it, my guess was that we would be (seeded) anywhere from nine to 13, so 15 was a little bit of a surprise,” Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. “I don’t know if I would say it was a disappointment, because I don’t really care to be honest with you. If you’re not in the top eight, it doesn’t really matter. Anywhere from nine to 16 is all the same.”
The top eight seeds also are host to Super Regional tourneys if they advance from regional play.
The Tigers, 41-16, open regional play at 3 p.m. Friday at University Field against Bradley, 27-30, who Missouri beat 1-0 on Feb. 28 at the Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.
The other half of the Tigers’ regional bracket has an old Big Eight feel with archrival Kansas, 33-21, and Big Ten co-champion Nebraska, 40-15, squaring off at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
Missouri, which tied for third during the SEC regular season, has reached the NCAA Super Regional six consecutive seasons and would face the winner of the Alabama’s regional if it advances next weekend.
The Tigers closed the season on a three-game skid, a first for the program since 2009.
“Whatever shortcomings we’ve had in those last three games, if anything, we’re motivated to get the ship righted,” Earleywine said. “The other thing is, anytime postseason starts, it’s invigorating and a shot of new life into your veins. It’s a fresh start, and I think we’re excited about that.”
Oregon is the No. 1 overall seed for the first time in school history, but the Southeastern Conference was well-represented with 11 teams in the field, more than double any other conference.
The regular-season champion Crimson Tide are the No. 2 seed and Georgia, the SEC Tournament champion, wound up with the No. 4 seed.
Third baseman Alex Hugo, an Olathe South graduate, leads the Bulldogs with 23 home runs, which is tied for first in the nation.
Florida snagged the No. 5 seed, Tennessee was the No. 10 seed and Kentucky was tabbed as the No. 14 seed.
Mississippi State is in No. 6 seed Louisiana-Lafayette’s regional, Texas A&M landed in No. 7 seed Oklahoma’s regional, South Carolina was placed in No. 8 seed Florida State’s regional, LSU wound up in No. 11 seed Arizona’s regional and Auburn landed in No. 16 Minnesota’s regional.
The 2014 Women’s College World Series begins May 28 in Oklahoma City.