Bulldogs Softball Begins Postseason Pursuit as No. 7 Seed in NCAA Regional Tournament
Bulldogs softball becomes the fifth team this year to represent in the NCAA Tournament.
DULUTH, Minn.- Over the weekend, the UMD softball team nabbed their fifth NSIC tournament championship, the first in over 20 years. That win gave the Bulldogs the automatic bid into the NCAA Central Regional Tournament. The Bulldogs postseason pursuit is just days away and early Monday morning the playoff stage was set.
This trip to the Regional Tournament marks the tenth time in program history for UMD, the last being back in 2019.
“To think that we made it here, where as last year and the year before we didn’t make it to Regionals, so it’s super cool. For a lot of people on this team it’s the first time making it to Regionals and going on to this bigger stage so we’re just hoping we can show our stuff at this stage,” says junior infielder Elle Potts.
The Bulldogs cruised through the conference tournament, outscoring their opponents 19-1 and are eager to bring that same energy to the Big Dance.
“I think we have a lot left in the tank, I don’t think we’re done yet and I don’t think Regionals or the people in Regionals know what we can bring to the table,” says junior shortstop Kiana Bender.
“This is great experience for our team. You have to start somewhere and so, we’re building off of this and just come in with that same approach from the Conference Tournament, is just ‘Hey, we’re meant to be here and we can do this and we can make this happen and to compete in the Regionals and move on to Super Regionals,” says head coach Lynn Anderson.
UMD lands the seven seed heading into the Lions Den, literally, to square off with the No.25 nationally ranked Lions of Missouri Southern. A challenge these Dogs are ready to face head on.
“We’ve been playing a lot of the same teams so, we’re really excited to go into this tournament, play a new team and show them what we got because I feel like we have some of the best pitching and best hitters in this state, in this conference and in this region so we’re ready to take it home,” says senior catcher Sidney Zavoral.
These two teams have some history. Since 2016, the Bulldogs hold the 3-1 edge over the Lions. The most recent being a 2-0 victory in 2020.
“Kind of familiar, obviously we’ll watch them a little bit more, but exciting to be in it and have this experience. Not everybody gets to be in it, so to be one of 64 teams left and to represent the NSIC conference, we’re really grateful to have this opportunity,” says Anderson.
Every hour of practice and battle between the white lines has come down to this moment.
“It’s what everybody works for and wants and this team has worked really hard this year and we have all the tools to do awesome in this tournament,” says Zavoral.
“I feel like things happen for a reason and so it’s just special to look back at these little moments and know that we were meant for this moment right now,” says Anderson.
The Bulldogs head to Joplin, Missouri for the Tournament set to run from May 11-13. It will cap off what’s been an incredible year for UMD Athletics, with softball becoming the fifth team to represent in the NCAA Tournament this year.