The University of Alabama softball team got the coveted home regional that it wanted when the NCAA Tournament bracket was revealed Sunday night, but the Crimson Tide got the toughest draw of any seeded team in the entire field.
The Crimson Tide was awarded the No. 16 overall seed and will host for a 13th consecutive year, but will have to contend with Big Ten champion Minnesota to advance. And the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional will have to play No. 1-ranked Florida in the super regional round if the seeds hold.
Conference USA champion Louisiana Tech is the third seed in Tuscaloosa, and America East champion Albany rounds out the regional field.
Alabama will play Albany on Friday at 4 p.m. at Rhoads Stadium in a game that will be televised on the SEC Network. Minnesota vs. Louisiana Tech is scheduled for 1:30 on Friday on ESPNU.
The top 16 seeds host in the regional round, and Minnesota not receiving a top-16 seed was the shocker of the bracket. The Golden Gophers are ranked No. 3 and carry a 54-3 record.
Alabama is 42-16 and ranked No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll.
If Alabama wins its regional, it will play the winner of the Gainesville, Florida, Regional in the best-of-three super regional round. If Florida wins its home regional, UA will have to travel.
The eight super regional winners will advance to the Women’s College World Series, which will begin June 1 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. Alabama is playing for a fourth straight trip to the World Series, which would be a school record.
Alabama has won all 12 home regionals during its current streak of hosting in NCAA Tournament play. All-time, UA has won 13 of 14 home regionals. The last time UA had to travel for a regional was in 2004, when it lost to host UCLA in the regional final.
This marks Alabama’s 19th consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UA is also the only team to make it to the super regional round in each year since that format was adopted in 2005.
Before the SEC Tournament, UA head coach Patrick Murphy said his team will be a dangerous one in the postseason.
“I guarantee that nobody is going to want to see us in their bracket,” he said. “I just think we’re going to play better.”
Other SEC teams chosen to host regionals were seventh-seeded Auburn, No. 8 seed Tennessee, No. 9 seed Texas A&M, No. 12 seed Ole Miss, No. 13 seed LSU and No. 14 seed Kentucky.
All 13 SEC teams earned bids to the NCAA Tournament, the first time that many teams from the same conference have ever advanced to the national title event.
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