PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Three BIG EAST teams earned bids to the 2013 NCAA Softball Championship Sunday night. Louisville, Notre Dame and USF will represent the league at this year's 64-team tournament. Regionals are held at 16 campus sites May 16-19 in a double-elimination format with winners advancing to the Super Regionals May 23-26 at eight sites in a best-of-three series. The 2013 Women's College World Series will be held at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 30 to June 5.
No. 12/11 Louisville (46-11) makes its eighth-straight NCAA Championship appearance as a member of the BIG EAST. The Cards have made the tournament every season since joining the league in 2006. They will host the regionals for the fourth time in that span and are 23-3 at home this season. The Cardinals are scheduled to play IPFW (32-14) May 17 and will also host the UAB and UCLA game in the double-elimination round at Ulmer Stadium. Louisville finished third in the BIG EAST regular-season standings but earned the No. 15 seed with five wins over top 25 teams including No. 1 Oklahoma.
Notre Dame (43-13, the 2013 BIG EAST regular-season champions and BIG EAST Championship runner-up, will play in the Lexington Regional hosted by No. 12 seed Kentucky. The Irish are slated to play Virginia Tech (35-19) Friday at 5 p.m. on ESPN3. Notre Dame makes its 16th NCAA Championship appearance since joining the BIG EAST in 1996. The team is led by the BIG EAST Player of the Year Laura Winter and USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year finalist Emilee Koerner. Koerner is among 10 finalists for the prestigious award.
No. 24 USF (43-14) earned the league's automatic bid with its first BIG EAST Championship in program history. The Bulls are paired against Georgia Southern (32-28) May 17 in the Gainesville Regional hosted by No. 2 seed Florida. USF defeated Florida in the same regionals a year ago and advanced to the 2012 Women's College World Series. The team is led by its pitching staff that ranks second in the nation with a 1.24 ERA. The team's ace, BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Sara Nevins, is coming off one of the greatest pitching performances in BIG EAST Championship history with 22.2 scoreless innings, 10 hits and 25 strikeouts. She ranks among the nation's best with a 0.94 ERA.