The Regionals follow a double-elimination format with the winner of the opening round being decided on Sunday. Links for live video, audio and stats will be available online at www.suutbirds.com with complete event coverage at www.ncaa.com.
Sophomore outfielder Kylee Wolf led Southern Utah with a .390 batting average while homering 11 times. Senior Madison Resley hit .377 with 11 more homers and Kadi Henderson racked up a team best 12 home runs to tie the school record with a total of 31 for her career. Junior pitcher Katie Greenberg posted a 7-7 record on a 4.39 ERA while senior Ariel Hart went 9-10 with 68 strikeouts. The T-Birds ranked second in the Big Sky with an overall batting average of .301 and led the conference by turning 23 double plays.
UCLA finished just behind No. 1 Oregon in the Pac-12 standings to earn the third overall seed in the NCAA Championship. Sophomore outfielder Allexis Bennett hit .446 for the Bruins. Ally Carda racked up 13 home runs and Mysha Sataraka had 14 as the two tied for the team lead with 54 RBI apiece. Carda also led UCLA in the circle where she posted a record of 29-4 on a 1.74 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 197.1 innings pitched. The Bruins staff combined for a 1.96 ERA while the lineup batted .333 and ranked sixth in the nation with and average of 1.35 home runs per game. Head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez is in her eighth season. UCLA has captured all four of its meetings with the Thunderbirds.
LONG BEACH STATE
Long Beach State makes its 22nd appearance at the NCAA Tournament after capturing the Big West championship. The 49ers finished 45th in the country with a .310 batting average after being led at the plate by junior shortstop Shayna Kimbrough who hit .394 for the year with ten doubles. Sophomore Darian Tautalafua has homered 13 times and driven in 37 RBI. Erin Jones-Wesley (19-9) struck out 182 batters with a 3.08 ERA and Amanda Hansen (19-7) allowed 3.16 runs a contest as the two split time in the circle for a staff that held a combined ERA of 3.54. Head coach Kim Sowder is in her eighth season at her alma mater.
No. 20 Notre Dame led the nation with a .360 team batting average, but came up short against No. 4 Florida State in the ACC Title Game. The Irish return to the NCAA Championship for a 16th consecutive season, and make a 13th straight appearance under current head coach Deanna Grumpf. Junior outfielder Emilee Keorner collected 24 doubles for a team that led the nation in the category while sophomore Micaela Arizmendi drove in 58 runs for the fifth ranked scoring offense in the NCAA. Laura Winter anchored the Notre Dame pitching staff with a record of 27-5 on a 2.27 with 251 k’s.
2014 BIG SKY TOURNAMENT RECAP
Southern Utah brought home the school’s first Big Sky Tournament title with an 8-5 win over top-seeded Idaho State in the championship event held in Pocatello, Idaho last week. The Thunderbirds entered as the third seed before upsetting Sacramento State by a score of 5-2 in the opening round and then shutout ISU by a 8-0 count to reach the finals. The Bengals were able to take the first meeting of the final round, but SUU took the second game and championship after a two-run home run from Tournament MVP Kadi Henderson broke up a 5-5 tie in the top of the seventh and the T-Birds went on to capture the win by a final count of 8-5. The Southern Utah third baseman recorded five hits at the tournament, all of which went for home runs.
SUU NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
This week’s appearances marks Southern Utah’s third trip to the NCAA Softball Regionals. The Thunderbirds made their debut at the Provo, Utah Regional in 2006 where they fell to No. 14 Washington by a score of 8-0 and were edged by BYU, 5-4. SUU returned to BYU in 2007 and played No. 9 Arizona State through nine innings before falling 2-1 in its opener. The T-Birds then posted their first tournament win with a 9-4 victory over Cal Poly before being eliminated by the Cougars in a 10-5 contest.
The NCAA Women’s College World Series will be held in Oklahoma City on May 2 and 3. The top four tournament seeds are Oregon, Alabama, UCLA and Georgia.
SUU COACH SELECTED FOR NATIONAL TEAM POOL
Southern Utah’s Kyle Magnusson was named to a pool of 25 candidates from which coaches will be selected to work with the USA Softball Women’s National Team for the 2015-16 championship schedule. The team will compete in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada July 10-26 and the XV ISF Women’s World Championships in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada in 2016 as well as a series of exhibition each year. Other candidates in the group include coaches from Louisiana State University, Tennessee, BYU, Arizona, Lousiville and Oregon.