May 15, 2005
The University of Notre Dame softball team (44-13) has been selected to host an NCAA Regional for the first time in the program’s history. The BIG EAST Conference regular season champions and conference tournament runners up, the Irish will be making their seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship and 10th overall. Notre Dame will face Louisville in its first game at 12 noon on Friday, May 20.
“I am so excited that we have a chance to host this tournament and play in front our family and friends,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said after the announcement of the tournament pairings on Sunday evening.
“This is been a special year for the seniors and this is a perfect way to continue our journey toward our team goals.”
Northwestern (38-15), Louisville (42-18) and Albany (N.Y.) (35-12) will make up the rest of the four-team double-elimination tournament – to begin Friday, May 20.
Northwestern received the ninth overall seed in the tournament (the selection committee seeds the first 16 teams in the field). The Irish and Wildcats have met once this season, with Notre Dame posting a 4-3 come-from-behind victory. Notre Dame and Louisville also have a connection, as they will both be members of the BIG EAST Conference next season when the Cardinals join the league for softball competition. Louisville finished as the C-USA tournament runners up. Albany earned a bid to the NCAA Championship by winning the program’s first American East Conference Championship.
The 2005 season marks the first time the NCAA Women’s Softball Championship will be held over three weekends. Previously, the tournament was set up with eight teams at eight regions, feeding into the Women’s College World Series. This season, there are four teams at 16 regions, feeding into Super Regionals, then the Women’s College World Series.
In Notre Dame’s previous nine trips to the NCAA Championship, they had appeared at only three different sites. The program’s initial appearance was in Bloomington, Ind., in 1994, the team appeared six times in Ann Arbor, Mich. (1995, ’96, ’99, ’00, ’03, ’04) and twice in Iowa City, Iowa (’01, ’02). This will mark the first time NCAA postseason play will be held at Ivy Field.
As of Sunday evening, Friday’s game times were listed as 12 noon for Notre Dame vs. Louisville and Northwestern vs. Albany following the game at 2:30 p.m. Those will be the only two games played on Friday, with three games on Saturday and possibly two games on Sunday.
The rest of the tournament game times will be announced on Monday, in addition to ticket information and additional media information.