PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Four BIG EAST softball teams wrapped up the 2011 campaign at the NCAA Championships over the weekend with DePaul and Louisville reaching regional finals, while Notre Dame and Syracuse both exited the tournament after going 1-2 in regional play.
DePaul advanced to the regional final Sunday, May 22 with wins over Indiana and No. 4/8 Missouri Saturday, May 21 in Columbia, Mo. The Blue Demons edged the Hoosiers 2-1 and then upset the Tigers 2-1. In the losers' bracket, Missouri beat Illinois State 8-4 to advance to the regional final. Missouri defeated DePaul 7-3 Sunday, forcing a second game to decide the regional winner. The Blue Demons dropped an 8-0 decision in six innings as Missouri's Chelsea Thomas tossed a complete-game no hitter, sending the host team to the super regionals.
DePaul moved to 4-3 against Missouri in the NCAA tournament. This was the 10th time the Blue Demons reached the NCAA regional finals. The last time they made it this far was in 2009.
Regional host Louisville, dropped a 4-0 decision to No. 5/7 California Saturday morning. Later that night, the Cardinals shut out Jacksonville 12-0 in five innings in an elimination game and advanced to the regional final Sunday, May 22. UofL needed to win two games Sunday to move on to the super regionals, but came up short, dropping a 3-0 decision to Cal. With 10 strikeouts against the Bears, Louisville starter Tori Collins tied the Cardinal record for strikeouts in NCAA regional play, set by Catherine Bishop in a 1-0, 12-inning loss to Virginia Tech in 2006.
The Cardinal squad bounced back from an injury-plagued season to make their eighth-straight NCAA regional appearance and reached the regional final for the second consecutive season.
No. 19/24 Notre Dame blanked Western Michigan 4-0 in ND's first elimination game Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Irish then squared off with regional host No. 2/2 Michigan in their second elimination game of the day. With an 8-3 lead, the luck of the Irish ran out as the Wolverines put up six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Michigan picked up a 9-8 victory to advance to the regional final.
In College Station, Texas, Syracuse dropped a 13-5 decision to regional host No. 17/18 Texas A&M Saturday. Later in the day, the Orange took on No. 22/20 LSU in an elimination game. SU upset the Tigers 3-0 in 11-innings the previous day. In the elimination contest, Syracuse couldn't overcome a 5-0 deficit, sending LSU into the regional final.
Thirty conference champions were awarded automatic qualification to the NCAA Division I Softball Championship, while the remaining slots were filled with at-large bids. Regionals were May 20-22 with the winners advancing to the super regional competition for a best-of-three series, taking place May 26-27, May 27-28 and May 28-29 at eight campus sites. The remaining eight teams move on to the Women's College World Series at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City June 2-8.