The Wichita State softball team will play in its fourth NCAA Regional in program history, as the Shockers earned their second at-large berth in program history when the 64-team field announced Sunday night.
Wichita State (30-21) will play Oklahoma State (38-20) on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Fayetteville, Ark. with the game broadcast on ESPNU. No. 13 Arkansas (39-15) and DePaul (35-15) is the other matchup. The regional tournament is double-elimination with the winner advancing to a best-of-three super regional.
It's a familiar matchup for the Shockers, which swept the season series against Oklahoma State when the Cowgirls were ranked both times. WSU won 5-3 in Stillwater on March 27 and 9-6 in Wichita on April 18. The Shockers also beat Arkansas 1-0 in Wichita on March 6.
"We're going to a regional where we're 3-0 against two of the teams," WSU coach Kristi Bredbenner said. "I think the big challenge for us is going to beat Oklahoma State for a third time. We've had some opportunities to see everybody they're going to bring and they've had the same. It's going to be a dog fight and it should be a fun regional for us."
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Arkansas finished 12-12 in the SEC, the top conference in the country. The Razorbacks advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament and owned a top-20 RPI. Arkansas is led by pitcher Mary Haff, who is 26-6 on the season with a 1.48 earned-run average and 226 strikeouts in 189 innings.
DePaul is the two-time defending champion in the Big East, but it finished with a RPI of 68. DePaul has won 10 of its last 11 games and is led by freshman pitcher Pat Moore, who is 12-5 with a 1.90 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 121-plus innings.
The American finished with four teams in the NCAA Tournament: Tulsa, Houston, Wichita State and South Florida.
"It's awesome that the American got four teams in," Bredbenner said. "That's 50 percent of the teams in our conference that are playing in the post-season. That tells you how strong our conference is. Playing in the American Conference has helped boost our resume and our kids did a tremendous job with our mid-week games this season. It just shows you the growth in this program."
WSU has played in a NCAA Regional in 1989, 2015, and 2016, but has had little success. The Shockers are just 1-6 all-time in NCAA regional games.