The Huskies will face Montana in the opening round on Friday night.
Earning its first top-eight seeding since 2010, Washington was seeded No. 6 in the NCAA softball tournament Sunday night and will host Big Sky Conference champion Montana (35-22) Friday at 8:30 p.m. (ESPN3) on the opening night of a four-team regional at Husky Softball Stadium.
If the Huskies (43-11, No. 6 in latest coaches poll) defeat Montana, a program in just its third year of existence, they will advance to Saturday’s 2 p.m. game. They will face the winner of Friday’s 6 p.m. game (on ESPN2), Michigan (41-11-1, No. 2 in the Big Ten) vs. Fresno State (34-21).
UW coach Heather Tarr, who has taken a team to the postseason in 13 straight seasons, is pleased to be one of the top eight seeds. It means the Huskies, if victorious at its regional, will host a best-of-three super regional the following weekend. If seedings play out, 11th-seeded Utah, which UW swept on the road, will come to Seattle.
“Last year I thought we put a good season together and got an 11 seed,” Tarr said. “I thought we were a little bit taken back by that. This year we made it our goal to leave no doubt and find a way to get into that top eight.”
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The Huskies have four wins against three top-16 tournament seeds, defeating No 7 Auburn and No. 10 Oklahoma in February and No. 16 Alabama twice in late April. UW lost to No. 15 Baylor in March.
Sophomore Taran Alvelo (28-6, 1.90 earned-run average, 170 strikeouts, 66 walks) will carry the load.
“We’ve been preparing Taran all Pac-12 season to be ready to go, if needed, three games in a row,” Tarr said. “Taran is fresh and healthy and ready to go.”
Top hitters include seniors Casey Stangel (. 355) and Ali Aguilar (. 349).
“Our team is led by some of the best student-athletes we’eve ever had here,” Tarr said. “We’ve got great senior leadership, and leadership on down through the lineup. It’s visible when you watch our team in how they play and take possession of the field. It’s fun to watch.”