DePaul Back in the NCAA Tournament and at the Evanston Regional
CHICAGO - The No. 20/23 DePaul softball team will travel 13 miles to the Evanston Softball Regional and face Drake in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament on Friday, May 16 at noon (CST) at Northwestern's Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The Blue Demons picked up the BIG EAST Conference's automatic bid after capturing the tournament Championship on Saturday.
The four-team, double-elimination regional tournament begins on Friday, May 16 and runs through Sunday, May 18. Host Northwestern received the No. 11 overall seed in the tournament, while Drake and Western Illinois round out the other three teams.
The Blue Demons are making their 13th NCAA Tournament appearance and advanced to the Women’s College World Series in 2007, 2005, 2000 and 1999. DePaul boasts a 33-25 all-time NCAA Tournament.
The Blue Demons (48-16) are coming off the school's first ever BIG EAST Conference Championship in any sport. The squad is led by sophomore All-American pitcher Becca Heteniak and junior third baseman Amber Patton. Heteniak is the reigning, BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year and picked up the BIG EAST Championship MVP award after going 3-0 in the circle with 30 strikeouts during the Championship. Heteniak enters the NCAA Tournament with a 31-6 record and team-low 1.20 ERA
Patton has been clutch as the plate all season, leading the Blue Demons with a .402 average and 80 hits. The junior first-team All-BIG EAST selection at third base boasts a .972 fielding percentage and leads the ballclub with 140 assists.
Drake earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by beating Missouri State, 7-2 in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Bulldogs enter the tournament with a 29-24 record and are led by Marilyn Buss. Buss is batting .307 on the season and is third on the squad with 28 RBI.
Friday’s meeting between DePaul and Drake is the ninth meeting between the two teams. The two clubs last met in 2000, with the Blue Demons picking up a 2-0 victory. The Blue Demons hold a 6-2 all-time series advantage and have won the last four meetings.
The winner of the DePaul-Drake game faces the winner of the Northwester-Western Illinois contest on Saturday. Western Illinois (14-31) received the Summit League's automatic bid and is making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. Host Northwestern (37-13) picked up both the Big Ten regular season title as well as the tournament title and is making its 11th NCAA Championship appearance.
The Blue Demons and Wildcats faced earlier this season and DePaul picked up a 5-3 victory on April 29. No stranger to meetings in the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Demons advanced to the WCWS in 2005 after sweeping Northwestern in the Super Regional in Chicago.
The winner of the Evanston Regional plays the winner of the Tempe Regional. No. 6 Arizona State is the top seeded team in that region and is joined by Mississippi State, Hawaii and Stony Brook. Super Regionals are scheduled to run May 23-24 at selected campus sites.