May 10, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Fresh off its BIG EAST Championship clinched on Saturday night, the Notre Dame softball team now heads for Ann Arbor, Mich. The Irish meet Cleveland State (35-16) Friday, with No. 5 national seed Michigan (41-10) and Miami (Ohio) (32-22) also competing in the double-elimination bracket. BIG EAST Conference regular-season champion DePaul received the No. 15 national seed and was sent to the Columbia, Mo., regional. Louisville also made the bracket and will play host to a regional that includes No. 9 national seed Arizona.
For the 11th consecutive season Notre Dame (41-15) has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament when the NCAA Division I Softball Championship Committee announced the 64-field team on Sunday evening. Notre Dame has earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament 14 times overall. The Irish have advanced to the final day of regional action four times and last made an appearance at Ann Arbor in 2008.
Florida was named the overall No. 1 seed as the Gators, champions of the Southeastern Conference, is 55-3 and will play Florida A&M University, an automatic qualifier from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in front of a home crowd in Gainesville.
Thirty conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 34 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and will play at campus sites this weekend.
Team pairings were determined by geographical proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not paired during regional competition, when possible.
The SEC led all conferences with nine teams in the championship, while the Big 12 placed seven and the Big Ten and the Pacific-10 each placed six. California State University, Fresno, remains the only team to be selected to all 28 championships. Seven teams are making their initial appearances in the tournament: Bradley University, James Madison University, the University of Kentucky, North Dakota State University, Radford University, Sacred Heart University and the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Only nine schools have been crowned the NCAA Division I softball champion since the tournament started in 1982, and all are in this year's bracket.