Pac-12 Softball: Eight Teams Make NCAA Tournament

Eight of nine Pac-12 softball teams will be playing for the NCAA Championship in the coming weeks, as the NCAA Committee announced Sunday night the 64 teams vying for the 2012 NCAA Division 1 Softball Championship. All regionals will be held May 18-20, except for the Eugene regional that will take place May 17-19.

30 conferences were given automatic qualification and the other 34 spots were filled with at-large selections, the NCAA website stated. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and are set to play at campuses this weekend. Four teams will play each of the 16 regional sites in double-elimination format.

"I feel like this year more than any other year its been more wide open," said Jessica Mendoza, Stanford left fielder (1999-02), four time 1st All-American and 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist. "You've seen the bats kind of quiet down, the pitching really step up and because of that you're seeing less runs scored. You're going to see a lot closer games."

"This has been the year of the freshmen and the year of the underclassmen," said Michele Smith, Oklahoma State pitcher (1986-89) and ASA Softball Hall of Fame Inductee (2004). "We've had some outstanding effort by the young kids."

SCHEDULE

May 17-20: Regionals -- Double Elimination

May 24-27: Super Regionals -- Best-of-3

May 31-June 6: Women's College World Series -- Double Elimination

June 4-6: Championship Series -- Best-of-3

The top 8 seeds will host regionals and if they can hold on, super regionals.

California -- Overall No. 1 seed -- Making its 28th NCAA appearance and 27th straight -- Finished the regular season 50-4 overall and captured the Pac-12 regular season title with a 21-3 record -- Led by Valerie Arioto, Jolene Henderson and Jamia Reid -- 3rd consecutive year with a Top-16 seed -- Ranked No. 1 in polls in 12 of 13 weeks -- Won 2002 National Championship.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for us, we've waited so many years to be able to host," said Cal head coach Diane Ninemire. "What I saw in that team in 2002 was the strong will to win and the same team in 2012 has the same will as the 2002 team and so I think we have all the pieces that we need in order to win a championship."

2. Alabama -- Won the SEC regular season and SEC tournament titles; the latter after defeating Florida 10-1 last Saturday -- Led by SEC Pitcher of the Year Jackie Traina -- 8 of 9 starters are hitting over .300 -- SEC Coach of the Year Patrick Murphy -- Led SEC in BA, HR and runs scored.

3. Arizona State -- Defending NCAA Champions - Finished 2nd in the Pac-12 -- Lost only one series all year (Cal) -- Went 46-7 overall -- Last year then-freshman Dallas Escobedo led the Sun Devils on the mound and this year senior Katelyn Boyd and the offense can hit hard -- Led Pac-12 in scoring (7.3 runs per game).

4. Oklahoma -- 2012 Big 12 Champions -- Keilani Ricketts is strong in the circle and freshman Lauren Chamberlain is a three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, having been named May 14 after breaking the Big 12 single-season record for home runs with 25 with three in Oklahoma's three-game sweep of Iowa State.

5. Florida -- 13th NCAA appearance -- Lone senior Michelle Moultrie leads as well as freshmen like Lauren Haeger and Sami Fagan and sophomore Hannah Rogers in the circle. The Gators lost to Arizona State in the finals last season and to Washington in 2009.

6. Texas -- 12th NCAA trip -- Blaire Luna is a top pitcher and the Longhorns have speedy offense for big runs.

7. Tennessee -- 10th appearance -- Raven Chavanne, Lauren Gibson, Madison Shipman and the Renfroe sisters pitching are names to watch out for.

8. Texas A&M -- 23rd NCAA appearance -- Led by junior pitcher Mel Dumezich and junior catcher/first baseman Meagan May.

9. Missouri

10. Georgia

11. Oregon -- 3rd straight NCAA appearance.

12. UCLA -- NCAA-leading 11 titles, with the most recent win in 2010.

13. Arizona -- 8-time winners; last time captured back-to-back trophies in 2007 and 2006.

14. UL Lafayette

15. Louisville

16. Washington -- Defeated Florida in 2009 for the Huskies' first title.

BERKELEY REGIONAL

No. 1 California vs. Iona

Arkansas vs. Boston University

SEATTLE REGIONAL

No. 16 Washington vs. Harvard

Maryland vs. Texas Tech

COLUMBIA REGIONAL

No. 9 Missouri vs. Illinois State

Massachusetts vs. DePaul

COLLEGE STATION REGIONAL

No. 8 Texas A&M vs. Bethune-Cookman

Texas State vs. LSU

GAINESVILLE REGIONAL

No. 5 Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast

Central Florida vs. South Florida

LOS ANGELES REGIONAL

No. 12 UCLA vs. Hofstra

San Diego State vs. Florida State

TUCSON REGIONAL

No. 13 Arizona vs. North Dakota State

Notre Dame vs. Hawaii

NORMAN REGIONAL

Oregon State vs. Tulsa -- OSU's first NCAA appearance since 2007. Had best season since last appearance.

Lehigh vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

TEMPE REGIONAL

No. 3 Arizona State vs. LIU Brooklyn

Long Beach State vs. Syracuse

LAFAYETTE REGIONAL

No. 14 UL Lafayette vs. Mississippi Valley State

Baylor vs. Stanford -- The Cardinal's 15th NCAA trip.

EUGUENE REGIONAL

No. 11 Oregon vs. Portland State

Mississippi State vs. BYU

AUSTIN REGIONAL

No. 6 Texas vs. Northwestern

Houston vs. Auburn

KNOXVILLE REGIONAL

No. 7 Tennessee vs. Miami (OH)

UAB vs. Virginia Tech

ATHENS REGIONAL

No. 10 Georgia vs. Coastal Carolina

Georgia Southern vs. North Carolina

LOUISVILLE REGIONAL

No. 15 Louisville vs. Valparaiso

Kentucky vs. Michigan

TUSCALOOSA REGIONAL

No. 2 Alabama vs. Tenn-Martin

South Alabama vs. Georgia Tech

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