The Minnesota Gophers softball team found out their NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday evening when the 2023 brackets were released. Minnesota is the #2 seed in the Seattle regional which features the host and #7 national seed Washington Huskies, the McNeese Cowgirls, and the Northern Colorado Bears. Minnesota will open play on Friday evening against McNeese at 5:30 CDT on ESPN+.
The Gophers saw their conference schedule end on Friday with a 5-2 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Semifinals. The Hoosiers would go on to lose to #1 seed Northwestern in the Championship Game 2-1 on Saturday. Minnesota placed a pair of players on the All-Tournament ream including pitcher Autumn Pease and third baseman Kayla Chavez.
Minnesota is making their 10th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and is 28-33 all-time with their run to the College World Series in 2019 being the high point.
Washington earned the #7 overall seed after going 38-12 overall and finishing in second place in the Pac-12 behind #2 national seed UCLA. The Huskies fell in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament to eventual champion Utah who earned the #15 national seed. They went 1-0 against teams from the Big Ten defeating Michigan State in March. They did face McNeese dropping a 3-2 decision on the Cowgirls home field on Fenruary.
McNeese comes into the tournament as both the regular season and tournament champions in the Southland Conference. The Cowgirls from Lake Charles, Louisiana went 44-14 in the regular season and 21- 3 in Southland Conference play. McNeese did not play a Big Ten opponent in the regular season, but has ranked wins over both Washington and LSU.
Northern Colorado qualified for the NCAA Tournament as the Champions of the Big Sky Tournament. The Bears went 26-21 in the regular season and finished in third place in the Big Sky Conference with an 8-7 record. They then went 4-1 in the Big Sky Tournament defeating Idaho State twice on the final day to win and advance. Northern Colorado did not play a Big Ten school or defeat a ranked opponent in 2023.
Three other Big Ten teams make the NCAA Tournament with Indiana earning the #2 seed in the Knoxville Region with #4 Tennessee, Nebraska getting the #3 seed in the Stillwater Region with #6 Oklahoma State, and Northwestern getting the #12 National seed and hosting a regional.
The Seattle Regional will kick off Friday evening with the Gophers and McNeese facing off at 5:30 CST. Washington and Northern Colorado will follow. Three games will be played Saturday with the winner of Game 1 vs. winner of Game 2 and 4pm CST, the two losers from Friday facing off in an elimination game at 6:30 PM CDT, and the winner of that game facing the loser of the first game on Saturday at 9 PM CDT in another elimination game. The Regional Final/Finals are set for Sunday with the first game starting at 3PM CDT and the second if necessary to follow.
The winner of the Seattle region will face the winner of the Baton Rouge Region in the Super Regionals the following weekend. #10 LSU, Louisiana, Omaha, or Prairie View will advance.
We will have a full breakdown of the Seattle Region later this week here at TDG.