NCAA softball tournament bracket set: Texas named No. 1 seed, first non-Oklahoma top team in 4 years



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For the first time in four years, there’s a new No. 1 seed in the NCAA softball tournament.

Texas earned the top spot for the first time in program history despite losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament championship. The Longhorns, who were the regular-season conference champs, lead the country in batting average (.383) and enter the postseason with a 47-7 overall record.

The Sooners were the No. 1 seed for the past three years and backed up the ranking with three consecutive national championships. This softball season, though, is filled with parity and Oklahoma’s Big 12 foe overtook the top of the bracket. The Sooners earned the No. 2 seed.

Chair of the Division I softball committee Kurt McGuffin said Texas’ 16 top-25 wins compared to Oklahoma’s nine was a key factor in the committee’s ranking.

“(Texas and Oklahoma) went 2-2 against each other, but Texas also in their nonconference (schedule) played quite a few of the teams that are ranked in the top 16,” McGuffin said. “Even though there was the championship final, we thought Texas was still consistent and should be in that No. 1 spot.”

The top eight seeds host a regional and super regional. Behind Texas and Oklahoma, that includes No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Missouri and No. 8 Stanford.

The next eight seeds host only a regional round which includes: No. 9 LSU, No. 10 Duke, No. 11 Georgia, No. 12 Arkansas, No. 13 Louisiana, No. 14 Alabama, No. 15 Florida State and No. 16 Texas A&M.

All 13 SEC teams made the 64-team field. Other conferences with multiple teams in the field include the Pac-12 (7), ACC (5), Big 12 (5), Big Ten (4), Sun Belt (3) and AAC (2).

Dayton, Siena and Southeastern Louisiana are making their first appearances in the tournament. The last four in were Indiana, Ole Miss, Penn State and UCF. The first four out were BYU, Louisville, Texas Tech and Wichita State.

What to know about the No. 1 seed, Texas

The Longhorns spent much of the season at the top of polls, so their No. 1 seed in the tournament doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Texas is battle-tested and won seven of its last eight games by the run-ahead rule (up by eight or more runs after five or more equal innings) including a 23-0 beatdown at Texas Tech.

Sophomore catcher Reese Atwood was named the Big 12 player of the year after setting single-season program records in home runs and RBIs. She leads her team with a .427 batting average. Coach Mike White, who joined the Longhorns in 2018 after nine seasons at Oregon, earned conference coach of the year honors.

Texas will open NCAA tournament play against Siena, the auto-qualifier from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. St. Francis (Penn.) and Northwestern will also compete in the Austin regional.

Texas finished as runners-up to Oklahoma in the 2022 Women’s College World Series. The Longhorns have never won a national championship.

Regional to watch

The Knoxville regional should be exciting. Regular-season SEC champion Tennessee will host as the No. 3 seed. The Lady Volunteers are backed by elite pitching, with Payton Gottshall and Karlyn Pickens both ranking in the top 10 in the country in ERA. They’ll open against Atlantic 10 champion Dayton.

If Tennessee wins, it has a chance to draw Miami (Ohio) which will open tournament play against Virginia. The Red Hawks sport one of the most electric offenses in the nation, leading the nation with 157 home runs this season. This offense against Tennessee’s pitching would be must-see TV.

Schedule

  • Regionals: May 16/17-19
  • Super Regionals: May 23-25 or May 24-26
  • Women’s College World Series: May 30-June 6/7 in Oklahoma City

(Photo: David Buono / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)





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