Should the Huskies win, they will advance to face the winner of Friday’s 4:30 p.m. game between Big Ten tournament champion Minnesota (41-12) and North Dakota State (38-13), the three-time Summit League champion.
The Washington softball team, ranked No. 13 in the most recent coaches’ poll, Sunday, was named the No. 11 seed in the 64-team NCAA tournament field and will host a four-team, double-elimination regional starting Friday.
The Huskies (36-13), the third-place team in the Pac-12, will open against two-time Big Sky champion Weber State (37-17) Friday at 7 p.m. at Husky Softball Stadium. UW will be playing in its 23rd straight NCAA tournament, the 12th time under coach Heather Tarr.
Should the Huskies win, they will advance to face the winner of Friday’s 4:30 p.m. game between Big Ten tournament champion Minnesota (41-12) and North Dakota State (38-13), the three-time Summit League champion. Two teams will be eliminated in three games played Saturday. The surviving teams play Sunday at noon and, if necessary, 2:30 p.m.
At Husky Softball Stadium; double-elimination
Minnesota (41-12) vs. North Dakota St. (38-13), 4:30 p.m.
Washington (36-13) vs. Weber State (37-17), 7 p.m.
Games at 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Championship game atnoon and, if necessary, 2:30 p.m.
At Penn State last Saturday, Minnesota, ranked 23rd in the coaches’ poll, upset second-ranked Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship game, winning 4-3 in 10 innings. UW defeated Minnesota 7-2 on Feb. 14. Later that month, Washington defeated Michigan 6-5. UW also played Weber State at a Fresno State tournament March 13, winning 10-3.
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The Huskies played one of the country’s toughest schedules, also facing the tournament’s No. 1 seed, two-time defending national champ Florida on Feb. 26, losing 3-1. Washington was No. 6 in the latest RPI rankings.
Tarr was hoping to receive one of the top eight seeds, since those teams get to host a best-of-three super regional the following week if they win their regional rounds.
“We thought we had a great resume, great strength of schedule,” Tarr said. “We knew we were on the bubble. We’re honored we get to host the first weekend.”
In 11 seasons, Tarr has guided UW to nine super regionals, four College World Series and the 2009 national championship. Still, with three league champions coming to Seattle, she understands her team needs to be at its best.
“Every single regional is competitive,” she said.
UW entered the last weekend of regular-season play ranked No. 10 in batting average (.333). Junior shortstop Ali Aguilar (.359) ranked fourth in the country with 20 home runs. Trysten Melhart (.391), Courtney Gano (.373) and Taylor Van Zee (.371) are UW’s top-hitting regulars.
Tarr hopes freshman pitcher Taran Alvelo (17-5, 3.25 earned-run average), out the past two weeks with a sprained ankle, can throw.
• If Washington wins the regional and other seeded teams win, the Huskies would move on to a best-of-three super regional at No. 6 Alabama (46-12), one of seven SEC teams among the tournament’s 16 seeded teams.