NCAA softball: Regionals await BYU, Utah Valley and Southern Utah
Three Utah teams will vie for the NCAA softball title, with double-elimination regionals beginning this week for BYU, Utah Valley and Southern Utah.
Having won 15 straight games and 19 of their last 20, BYU opens up Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MT against Northwestern (33-16) in Seattle. The Cougars (33-21) lost 4-1 in their last meeting against the Wildcats.
"We're excited to go to the Washington Regional," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said in a statement. "We were there three years ago, and they run a fabulous regional."
It's the 10th straight NCAA Regional for BYU. The Cougars are led at the plate by freshman Sydney Broderick (hitting .365 with six homers), freshman McKenzie St. Clair (.356 with five homers) and senior Katie Manuma (12 homers, 49 RBIs), and on the mound by senior Tori Almond (2.14 ERA, 10-6) and freshman McKenna Bull (3.04 ERA, 16-9).
BYU's four-team regional also includes No. 12 Washington and Iona.
UVU, winner of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, draws No. 1 Oregon in its first-ever NCAA regional appearance. The Wolverines (18-40) are familiar with the Ducks (49-7-1), having lost to them 8-0 and 5-4 in a doubleheader in late April.
"We're excited to be facing Oregon again and we'll be ready for them," said head coach Nikki Palmer in a statement. "We were still hungry when we left there a couple weeks ago, and we had a feeling we might see them again."
Game time is 6 p.m. MT Friday in Eugene, Ore. UVU is led by senior pitcher Josi Summers, fresh off three wins in the WAC Tournament and its MVP award, and senior boppers Amanda Robinson and Debra Lovell, who have combined for 21 home runs.
Also in UVU's cluster is Albany and Wisconsin.
Southern Utah (22-29) takes on No. 3 UCLA (48-6) on Friday at 7 p.m. MT, part of a group that also includes Long Beach State and No. 20 Notre Dame.
The Thunderbirds beat Idaho State last weekend for the school's first-ever Big Sky Tournament title and returns to regionals for the first time since 2007.
SUU's pitching has been shaky at times, yielding a .320 opponent batting average, but the T-Birds can hit. Sophomore Kylee Wolf leads the team with a .390 average and 11 home runs, and the lineup also features seniors Madison Resley (.377, 11 homers) and Kadi Henderson (.296, 12 homers).
The winners advance to best-of-three Super Regionals series from May 22 to 24. The best-of-three College World Series will be played May 29 to June 4 in Oklahoma City.
NCAA softball schedule
• BYU vs. Washington, 5:30 p.m., at Seattle
• Utah Valley vs. Oregon, 6 p.m., at Eugene, Ore.
• Southern Utah vs. UCLA, 7 p.m., at Los Angeles