Softball: Northwestern earns No. 12 seed, hosting rights in NCAA Tournament


Daily file photo by Mary Randolph

Northwestern softball players high-five one another. The Wildcats look to repeat their 2022 trip to Oklahoma City in the NCAA Tournament this year.

Charlotte Varnes, Senior Staffer

For the second consecutive season, Northwestern softball will host a regional in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats (38-11, 20-3 Big Ten) were named the No. 12 national seed during Sunday’s Selection Show and will host Miami (Ohio), Kentucky and Eastern Illinois from May 19-21. This year is the sixth time NU has hosted a regional since the NCAA Tournament shifted to a 16-regional format in 2005.

The Cats punched their ticket to the Big Dance in a thrilling, walk-off victory against Indiana in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday, earning an automatic-qualifier bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 2-1 victory capped off a dominant season in the Big Ten, marking the first time since 2008 NU has won the conference title and the first time in program history of winning both the regular season and postseason titles in the same year.

Now, the Cats have a chance to build on their streak of postseason success. In 2022, NU defeated Arizona State in a thrilling comeback in Game 3 of the Tempe Super Regional to advance to the Women’s College World Series. But the Cats struggled in Oklahoma City, falling to eventual champion Oklahoma and UCLA.

The 2023 NU squad is led by many of the same stars that fueled its run to the World Series. Graduate pitcher Danielle Williams was key to the Cats’ Tempe Super Regional run and has played lights out this season. Graduate catcher Jordyn Rudd, graduate infielder Maeve Nelson and graduate outfielder Skyler Shellmeyer also played pivotal roles in the Cats’ trip to Oklahoma City and have looked similarly dynamic this season.

NU will return to the field on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Eastern Illinois. All four teams in the regional will compete Friday and Saturday in a double elimination-style competition. The top two teams will play Sunday, with the winner advancing to the Super Regional in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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Twitter: @charvarnes11

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