After being sent on the road for last year’s NCAA regional, the Baylor softball team took nothing for granted as it watched Sunday night’s tournament selection show.
The Lady Bears had to wait until the last bracket was announced but they got what they wanted as they were awarded the No. 15 national seed and will host the regional Friday through Sunday at Getterman Stadium.
The Lady Bears (43-12) will host for the first time since 2014 when they made their last trip to the Women’s College World Series. Last year, they were sent on the road to No. 5 Oregon despite having the No. 13 RPI in the country. Baylor lost in the regional final to the Ducks.
“My heart was beating a little bit,” said Baylor coach Glenn Moore. “But I’m excited for our players No. 1. We played a very tough schedule that was designed to give them the opportunity to play at Getterman. Sometimes I questioned if I overscheduled because we were in a rebuilding mode a little bit, but the girls really stepped it up and gave us a chance to host.”
The Lady Bears will face Kent State (32-26) in the first round Friday at 6:30 p.m. while Oregon State (28-25) will face James Madison (50-6) in the other game at Getterman Stadium at 4 p.m.
James Madison features one of the premier pitchers in the country in Megan Good who is 36-1 with an 0.48 ERA.
“James Madison has one of the best pitchers in the country, but we’ve got to win a game to get to her,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of great teams across the country and our regional will be a pretty tough one.”
The winner of the Baylor regional is matched up against the winner of the Arizona regional. The Wildcats are the nation’s No. 2 seed and beat Baylor, 5-0, in the opening tournament of the season in Tucson on Feb. 11.
“We faced Arizona at the beginning of the year and we were just getting to know each other, and played a really good game against them,” said Baylor pitcher Kelsee Selman.
Baylor is among four Big 12 teams to make the 64-team NCAA tournament field as it joins No. 10 national seed Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas. The Sooners are the only other Big 12 team to earn one of 16 host spots. Florida is the No. 1 national seed.
Baylor hasn’t won a regional since 2014 as it lost to Texas A&M at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2015 before losing to Oregon last year. But Moore likes his team’s chances, especially since he has two solid pitchers in Selman and Gia Rodoni.
“We’ve gone into regionals many times riding one arm,” Moore said. “But I feel very good with Gia and Kelsee. They’ve pitched against top lineups and our defense has been outstanding and is extremely fast. We’re ready to go to war and I feel like we can match up against anybody.”