The Minnesota Golden Gophers had an amazing 2017 NCAA softball season. The Big Ten stalwarts finished the year with a ridiculous 54-3 record, earning the top spot in the final Coaches’ Poll of the regular season. Behind the scorching bat of catcher Kendyl Lindaman (.438 average, 20 home runs) and shutdown pitching of Sara Groenewegen (30-2, 0.59 ERA, 280 strikeouts), the northern school put together one of the most compelling campaigns Division I softball has ever seen.
And yet, despite all this, the Selection Committee failed to find them worthy of one of the 16 hosting gigs at this year’s NCAA softball tournament.
Minnesota had to settle for a No. 2 seed at this year’s regionals, which will ship the team to Alabama rather than a well-deserved home series in the Twin Cities. The Golden Gophers’ lack of quality opponents in the Big Ten was enough of a reason for the committee to exclude them from a coveted national seed. UM was only 2-2 against RPI top 25 teams this spring, which appears to be the only reason for its shocking seeding.
Teams from the Southeastern Conference didn’t have the same problem. All 13 SEC programs (Vanderbilt doesn’t carry the sport) qualified for this year’s field of 64. Eight of those teams — Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, LSU, Kentucky, and Bama — will host regionals this weekend. The Gators are the No. 1 overall seed after winning their third straight regular season title and following that up with a win in the conference tournament last weekend.
The Golden Gophers can correct the selection committee’s mistake by rolling through Tuscaloosa and then dispatching their Super Regional opponent — likely Florida — en route to the Women’s College World Series.
Here’s how that works.
The 64 teams are split up into 16 different regionals, played at the home site of the top team in each region. The regionals, played from May 18-21, will each produce one winner, with the 16 regional winners paired off for eight super regional matchups. The super regionals are best-of-three series to be played from May 25-28, with the eight winners advancing to the Women’s College World Series, played in Oklahoma City from June 1-7.
Here are the 16 national seeds:
- Florida State
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
Here are the regional groupings and opening day matchups. The tournament’s format is double-elimination, so the winners of these showdowns will be set to meet each other on day two — and same with the losers. The full 64-team bracket can be found here.
No. 1 Florida vs. Florida A&M
Oklahoma State def. Florida International, 2-0.
No. 16 Alabama vs. Albany
Minnesota vs. Louisiana Tech
College Station regional
No. 9 Texas A&M vs. Texas Southern
Texas vs. Texas State
No. 8 Tennessee vs. Longwood
Ohio State vs. USC Upstate
Los Angeles regional
No 5 UCLA vs. Lehigh
San Jose State vs. Cal State Fullerton
No. 12 Ole Miss vs. Southern Illinois
Arizona State vs. North Carolina
Baton Rouge regional
No. 13 LSU vs. Fairfield
McNeese vs. UL Lafayette
No. 4 Florida State vs. Princeton
Jacksonville State vs. Georgia
No. 3 Oregon vs. Illinois Chicago
Wisconsin vs. Missouri
No. 14 Kentucky vs. DePaul
Illinois def. Marshall, 3-2 (12)
Salt Lake City regional
No. 11 Utah vs. Fordham
BYU vs. Mississippi State
No. 6 Washington vs. Montana
Michigan vs. Fresno State
No. 7 Auburn vs. ETSU
Notre Dame vs. California
No. 10 Oklahoma vs. North Dakota State
Tulsa vs. Arkansas
No. 15 Baylor vs. Kent State
Oregon State vs. James Madison
No. 2 Arizona vs. New Mexico State
South Carolina vs. St. Francis (PA)