By Chris Crowder, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 10, 2015
The road to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series was announced Sunday night. And for the 19th time, that road begins in Ann Arbor for the Michigan softball team.
To no surprise, when the top four teams for the NCAA Division I Softball Regional were announced at 9:30 p.m., No. 3 Michigan (51-6 overall) was one of them. After winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament title, they were a lock for one of the top seeds.
Rounding out the top four are No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Oregon, and No. 6 Auburn.
The Wolverines and Tigers won their conference championships in the Big Ten and SEC, respectively. The Ducks were the Pac-12 regular season champion (their conference did not hold a tournament), and the Gators fell in the SEC Tournament semifinal to Tennessee.
Despite Florida’s unexpected loss, the defending national champions received the top overall seed. Oregon, Michigan and Auburn received the two, three and four seeds, respectively.
The top 16 teams host Regionals and the top eight are guaranteed a chance to host Super Regionals if they continue to advance past the Regional round.
“Alumni Field is a special place, and it’s one of the greatest venues in college softball,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins in an interview during the Selection Show. “And spring in Ann Arbor is fantastic, so we are very excited to be at home.”
But the Wolverines are expected, as it is their goal, to play their final games outside of Ann Arbor and in Oklahoma City.
Before that, however, Michigan will play in-state foe Oakland (27-22) on Friday, at 6 p.m. at Alumni Field. The second matchup in the Ann Arbor Regional is California (38-16) vs. Pittsburg (35-20), slated for a 3:30 p.m. start on Friday as well.
If the Wolverines advance to the Super Regional, they will likely host No. 14 Georgia. The Bulldogs will play Central Connecticut and if they win, the winner of Western Kentucky and North Carolina.
Three other teams from the Big Ten also made the tournament. Northwestern will play Kentucky in the South Bend Regional, Nebraska will play Arizona State in the Baton Rouge Regional, and Minnesota will play New Mexico State in the Tucson Regional.
As for Michigan, it is ready to start its journey to win the coveted prize of a national championship.
“We’ve had a little pressure all year,” Hutchins said. “We’ve been a high-ranked team every time we’ve walked on the field, and we believe our kids will be prepared because they’re used to it. Every day we’ve walked on the field since the first day of practice, we’ve prepared for this moment.
"It’s all on the line now.”