At one point this season, the BYU women’s softball team was five games under the break-even mark and a ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament looked like a long shot.
Since then, the Cougars have bulldozed their way through the Pacific Coast Softball Conference, winning 16 of 17 games and earning an automatic bid to the postseason and a date with Pac-12 champs and No. 3-ranked Oregon at the Eugene Regional on Thursday. BYU opened the tournament in Eugene last season, losing to the Ducks in the regional final.
North Carolina and Wisconsin round out the bracket. The championship is 1 p.m. Saturday, with another to be played if necessary.
“We’re excited to be part of the NCAA Tournament for our ninth straight year,” BYU coach Gordon Eakin said. “Oregon is a great program, and we enjoyed our time there last year. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to go back and compete there again.”
BYU (33-23) and Oregon (46-9) play at 7 p.m. MT at Howe Field. The tournament resumes with a winners bracket game Friday at noon.
The Ducks, led by Alexa Peterson (.471) and Janie Takeda (.457), advanced to the Women’s College World Series in 2012. This year’s team slugged its way to the tournament, pounding out 76 long balls.
BYU may be without the services of injured JC Clayton. The Cougar infielder scored 45 runs while batting .383 this season. She was injured in a tag play at second base in the season’s final game, a 4-2 victory against Utah.
BYU at Oregon