Three Big Ten teams earn NCAA softball berth

Published 8:19 am Monday, May 16, 2011

PARK RIDGE, Ill. – Three Big Ten softball teams were selected Sunday night to participate in the 2011 NCAA Championship.

Indiana, Michigan and Penn State each earned berths into the field of 64, with the Wolverines and Nittany Lions hosting NCAA Regional action this weekend.

Winner of its fourth-straight Big Ten championship, Michigan (51-4) makes its 17th straight and 19th all-time appearance in the tournament when it hosts the Ann Arbor Regional this weekend. The No. 10 overall seed in this year’s field, the Wolverines host Western Michigan to open the tournament on Friday. Notre Dame and Kentucky will also compete in the Ann Arbor Regional. The regional’s games will be televised by ESPN and ESPN2.

Indiana (37-16) was selected to the field for the first time since 2006 and its eighth NCAA Tournament overall. The Hoosiers finished second in the conference standings this season, its highest finish since winning the Big Ten title in 1994. Indiana will compete in the Columbia Regional and open the tournament against DePaul on Friday. Other teams in the Columbia Regional include No. 5 seed Missouri and Illinois State.

Penn State (29-22-1) makes its 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and returns to the field for the first time since 2007. The Nittany Lions will serve as hosts in the University Park Regional during the opening round of the tournament and will open against Fordham on Friday. Albany and No. 13 seed Oregon will travel to State College as the regional’s other two squads.

The 64-team tournament field is divided into 16, four-team double-elimination regionals, beginning Friday. The 16 regional winners advance to super regionals, where eight will emerge as Women’s College World Series participants.