May 12, 2002
The NCAA Division I Softball Committee announced the pairings for the 2002 NCAA Softball Championship on Sunday night. The University of Notre Dame (42-15) received the third seed in the Region VII Tournament, hosted by the University of Iowa (the fourth seed). No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Oregon State, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 6 Illinois-Chicago make up the rest of the field.
This is the fourth consecutive year the Notre Dame team has earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament, making the senior trio of Kas Hoag, Jarrah Myers and Jenny Kriech the first graduating class to play in four NCAA regional tournaments during their careers. Notre Dame has been seeded third two times prior (1996 and 2000), both of those tournaments were held in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Notre Dame and Iowa will meet in the third game of the day on Thursday, May 16 at 4:30 p.m.
Nebraska and Illinois-Chicago will meet in the first game of the day, followed by the Oregon State – Wisconsin matchup. The losers of both those games will play the fourth game of the day on Thursday, eliminating one team on the first day of the tournament. Win or lose, Notre Dame will play on Friday. Should the Irish defeat the Hawkeyes, they will meet the winner of the Oregon State – Wisconsin matchup in game two on Friday. If they fall to Iowa, they will meet the winner of the first elimination game from Thursday in the first game on Friday.
Notre Dame was eliminated in the 2001 NCAA Tournament by Iowa, suffering both of its losses in the tournament to the Hawkeyes on their home field. Kristi Hanks, who would be named the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament, shut down the Irish hitters last season, allowing just two runs in two games. Hanks will return to pitch for Iowa on Thursday.
The Irish finished 3-2 in last season’s tournament, defeating Western Illinois, Illinois State and DePaul, but falling 6-0 and 6-2 to Iowa.
The Irish have played three of the Region VII tournament participants already this season. Notre Dame defeated fourth-ranked Nebraska 3-2 in Lincoln on April 23, defeated Illinois-Chicago at home 11-6 on April 4, and lost to 11th-ranked Oregon State 4-0 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic on Feb. 22.
2002 NCAA Region VII Tournament
Game one: No. 1 Nebraska vs. No. 6 Illinois-Chicago, Thursday, May 16, 11:30 a.m.
Game two: No. 2 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Wisconsin, Thursday, May 16, 2:00 p.m.
Game three: No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Iowa, Thursday, May 16, 4:30 p.m.
Game four: Loser game one vs. Loser game two, Thursday, May 16, 7:00 p.m.
Game five: Winner game four vs. Loser game three, Friday, May 17, 2:00 p.m.
Game six: Winner game two vs. Winner game three, Friday, May 17, 4:30 p.m.
Game seven: Winner game five vs. Winner game one, Friday, May 17, 7:00 p.m.