Just like in 2019, the Michigan softball team went into the NCAA selection show without a lot of drama. Of course, back then, it was a defeat of Minnesota to claim the Big Ten title. On Sunday, it was a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Rutgers in the Big Ten’s regular-season finale to finish the year at 36-6. That win was likely to be the Wolverines' last at home this season.
With the Big Ten tournament canceled this season, Michigan locked up the conference title — and an automatic NCAA berth — a week ago. On Sunday night, the Wolverines found out who they’ll face in the regionals, and that they'll open on the road, in Seattle.
Michigan, the No. 2 seed in its regional, will open with Seattle University (29-19) on Friday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. It’s a tough draw for the Wolverines, who, if they beat the RedHawks, will face the winner of national No. 16-seeded Washington and Portland State on Saturday in the double-elimination regional. Should U-M advance from its regional, it would likely face No. 1 overall seed Oklahoma (assuming the Sooners advance out of their regional) in Norman, Oklahoma, for a berth in the Women’s College World Series.
The Wolverines will be looking for their first trip back to Oklahoma City for the WCWS since 2016. That was also Michigan’s last time advancing past the regional round. Most recently, U-M was a regional host in 2019 — as the No. 15 national seed after winning the Big Ten tournament — but was eliminated by James Madison with back-to-back losses after winning two straight to open the NCAA tournament.
U-M’s strength this season is in the circle, with pitchers Alex Storako and Meghan Beaubien recording ERAs of 0.88 and 1.14, respectively, in 40 combined starts. Lexie Blair led the Wolverines with a .411 average, while Lou Allan and Taylor Bump led U-M with 10 home runs.
Michigan won the WCWS in 2005 — its only title under coach Carol Hutchins — and was the runner-up in 2015, falling to Florida in three games. UCLA, the national champion in 2019 is the No. 2 national seed this year.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan softball headed to Seattle for NCAA tournament regional