The University of Wisconsin will head west Thursday to make its first NCAA softball tournament appearance since 2005.
The Badgers learned Sunday night that they will play North Carolina in a regional hosted by the University of Oregon at 1,400-seat Howe Field on the Eugene, Ore., campus. First pitch has been set for 5 p.m. CDT.
The Pac-12 Conference champion Ducks (46-9), the No. 3 overall seed, will play BYU (33-23) in the other half of the bracket of the double-elimination regional. The Oregonian newspaper reported that the regional has a Thursday-Saturday schedule because BYU cannot play on Sundays for religious reasons.
This will be the second time this season that UW (42-11), the Big Ten Conference tournament champion, will face the Tar Heels (39-19). The Badgers won the first meeting 4-2 on March 13 in Louisville.
North Carolina earned its 11th NCAA berth after losing in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament to Florida State. The Seminoles fell to North Carolina State in the finals.
The Badgers were one of four Big Ten Conference teams to earn an NCAA berth, the most in one year since 2009. Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska earned at-large bids with Michigan and Nebraska both hosting first-round regional series.
The Badgers last played BYU in 2009 and haven’t seen the Ducks since 2001.
At each campus site, a four-team, double-elimination tournament will be conducted and the 16 winning teams advance to the Super Regionals for a best-of-three series that will be conducted May 23-26 at eight campus sites.
For the fourth consecutive year, all Super Regional games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.
The remaining eight teams will advance to the WCWS, an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The championship final will be a best-of-three-series. The WCWS will be conducted May 30 – June 5 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
According to the Oregonian, because the Ducks are among the top eight overall seeds, they would host a Super Regional the following weekend should they advance.