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Irish Earn Bid To 2008 NCAA Tournament

May 11, 2008

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the tenth consecutive season Notre Dame has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament when the NCAA Division I Softball Championship Committee announced the 64-field team on Sunday evening. The second-seeded Irish will face third-seeded Kent State on Friday (May 16) at 4:30 p.m. (ET) in Ann Arbor, Mich., to open tournament play.

“I feel that our squad can compete with each of the teams in this region, and we’ve positioned ourselves to make a run towards the Women’s College World Series,” said Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf.

Notre Dame sits in the Ann Arbor region along with top-seeded and host Michigan, Kent State, and fourth-seeded Wright State. The Irish (37-20-1) are one of four BIG EAST Conference teams joining Louisville, South Florida, and tournament champion DePaul to receive NCAA bids.

Notre Dame has earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament 13 times overall. The Irish have advanced to the final day of regional action four times. Michigan eliminated Notre Dame on the final day of regional action in 1995.

Florida (62-2) was named the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will play Georgia Tech on May 16 in front of a home crowd in Gainesville.

Thirty conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 34 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and will play at campus sites this weekend.

Team pairings were determined by geographical proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not paired during regional competition, when possible.

The Southeastern Conference led all conferences with eight teams in the championship, while the Pacific-10 placed seven. Six conferences tied for third with four bids to the tournament. Fresno State remains the only team to be selected to all 27 championships. Four teams are making their initial appearances in the tournament: Delaware State, Purdue, Stephen F. Austin and Stony Brook.

Only eight schools have been crowned the NCAA Division I softball champion since the tournament started in 1982, and all are in this year’s bracket.

The Division I championship provides for a field of 64 teams. The championship will be three weekends of competition. Four teams will participate at each of 16 regional sites in a double-elimination tournament. Sixteen teams were seeded and placed at one of the regional sites.

The regional winners will advance to super regional competition for a best-of-three series May 23-24 at eight campus sites.

The remaining eight teams will advance to the WCWS, an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The championship final will be a best-of-three-series. The WCWS will be conducted May 29 to June 4 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

The top 16 teams were seeded in order, and the remaining teams were placed in regional brackets to create balanced competition and avoid conference match-ups, when possible.

Notre Dame NCAA Tournament Notes

• First appearance – 1994 (Bloomington, Ind.) … the Irish faced the No. 1 seed, Indiana, in the first game of the tournament and dealt the Hoosiers a 3-0 loss in eight innings … the host team avenged the loss one day later with an 8-0 victory.

• First pitching victory – Terri Kobata (1993-96), arguably the greatest pitcher in Notre Dame softball history, won the first NCAA Tournament game for the Irish with a two-hit, nine strikeout performance against Indiana (1994).

• First No. 1 seed – 2001 … Notre Dame was ranked as high as seventh in the nation during the 2001 campaign and earned the team’s first NCAA Tournament number-one seed … the team could not host the event that season, however, and would bow out on the final day of the tournament to No. 2 Iowa on the Hawkeye’s home field.

• The Irish have traveled exclusively to Big Ten regional sites since it began to qualify for NCAA regional play … Indiana (1994), Iowa (2001-02), Michigan (1995-96, 1999-2000, 2003-04) and Northwestern (2006) have hosted the Irish in regional competition … Notre Dame played host to its first regional at Ivy Field in 2005.