Pac-12 champion Arizona softball will begin NCAA Tournament play at home with Arizona State opening at Mississippi.
The 64-team NCAA field was announced Sunday night with eight Pac-12 teams included.
Arizona (48-7) is making a NCAA record 31st consecutive postseason appearance. The Wildcats will play New Mexico State in the first round at Hillenbrand Stadium. Others in the double-elimination regional field are South Carolina and St. Francis (Pa.).
As the No. 2 overall national seed, UA also will host a super regional if it advances. Super regional winners play in the Women’s College World Series, opening June 1 in Oklahoma City.
Oregon is No. 3 national seed, UCLA No. 5, Washington No. 6 and Utah No. 11. California and Oregon State also qualified with only Stanford from the Pac-12 not making the field.
ASU (30-20) is making its 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 29th overall. The Sun Devils will face North Carolina in the first round with host Ole Miss opening against Southern Illinois.
The No. 22-ranked Sun Devils were swept at home by No. 10 UCLA to close the regular season and go into the postseason on a four-game losing streak. First-year coach Trisha Ford believes getting outside the Pac-12 will benefit her team.
“I think we’re going to make some noise in regionals,” Ford said. “I don’t think anybody is going to be comfortable wherever we get sent. I know we can play with anybody in the country and we’ve shown it through Pac-12 play.”
ASU went 9-15 in the Pac-12, which has four teams ranked in the top 15 nationally including No. 2 Oregon and No. 5 UA.
Last year, the Sun Devils were 6-17 in conference and still reached a regional final at LSU.
“We have experience with this unfortunately but also fortunately because we know how to react and what to be ready for,” first baseman Margaret Stahm said. “We know postseason is tough, but we also know the Pac-12 is tough. Everything we do in conference prepares us for postseason.”
Stahm homered twice in the season finale against UCLA and outfielder Fa Leilua hit her team high 13th. Ford believes both will be offensive factors in postseason and that ASU’s pitching will perform better than in giving up 25 runs in the final two games against the Bruins.
“I think we’re on the plate too much right now,” Ford said. “This is really the first series where our pitchers have not pitched well. I just think we hit a little reset button, talk about some things and we’ll be fine.”
Pac-12 softball final standings
Arizona 18-6/48-7 overall
Arizona State 9-15/30-20
Oregon State 9-15/27-25