The Washington softball team will open postseason play at home for the fifth straight season, this year hosting Iona (24-22) in a first-round NCAA tournament regional game Thursday at Husky Softball Stadium. Game time was undetermined at press time.
The Huskies (33-13, fifth place in the Pac-12 at 13-9) are seeded 12th in the 64-team tournament and are one of just five Pac-12 teams in the field. Last year’s tournament included eight, but perennial powers Stanford and California had off-years and did not receive invitations.
Oregon (49-7-1), the conference champion, is the overall No. 1 seed. Second-place UCLA (48-6) is No. 3, Arizona State (44-10-1) is No. 9 and Arizona (41-13) is the 11th seed.
Washington’s four-team regional also includes Northwestern (33-16) and Brigham Young (33-21). Those two meet in Thursday’s early game. The winner advances to face the UW-Iona winner Friday in a double-elimination format.
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UW lost to Northwestern 4-2 on Feb. 21 and defeated BYU 8-0 on Feb. 22. The Huskies have never played Iona, located in New Rochelle, N.Y.
In order to host a regional round, a team must receive one of the tournament’s 16 seeds. The selection committee leans heavily on a team’s RPI to determine seedings and UW, ranked eighth in the coaches poll, was No. 14 in the NCAA’s RPI.
UW struggled early in Pac-12 play, standing at 2-6 after the first three weekends. But the Huskies finished the regular season by winning nine of 10.
“Midway through the Pac-12 season we were in the mid-20s in RPI, so we were not really in a position to host,” said UW coach Heather Tarr. “We finished strong, and that was more important than anything.
“We played the toughest part of the Pac-12 schedule at the start of the season, so we didn’t hit our peak until maybe this past weekend,” Tarr said, referring to a three-game sweep at California.