After wrapping up their sixth Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title Saturday, the Missouri State softball team received word Sunday evening that they will match-up against Tulsa, Friday (May 20) to open the 2011 NCAA Division I Softball Championship. The Bears will be one of four teams in the Norman (Okla.) Regional, hosted by the University of Oklahoma and will take on the Conference USA co-champion Golden Hurricane at a to-be-determined time.
Missouri State (29-23) defeated Drake, 7-4, Saturday in the title game of the State Farm MVC Softball Championship at Killian Stadium to earn the program’s sixth NCAA berth and its first since 2006. The Bears of head coach Holly Hesse enter the tournament on a seven-game win streak, matching their longest of the season.
Tulsa (43-13), which shared the Conference USA regular-season title, will be making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last six seasons. The Golden Hurricane shut-out the Bears, 4-0, April 28 in Tulsa.
Oklahoma (38-16), which received the No. 9 national seed in the tournament, will square off against Iona (31-20) in the other Friday contest at Marita Hynes Field.
The host Sooners are coming off a fifth-place Big 12 Conference finish, ranking 13th in the latest edition of the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll. Oklahoma defeated the Bears twice in mid March at the Oklahoma Spring Festival in Norman.
Iona captured its second straight MAAC title Saturday after finishing fourth in the league’s regular-season race. The Gaels and Bears have never previously met on the softball field.
Regional play continues through Sunday (May 22) with a double-elimination format. The 16 regional winners will advance to the Super Regional round, which will be contested May 26-29, with winners of the three-game, head-to-head series moving on to the 2011 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, June 2-8.