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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 17 2010

NDSU headed to Seattle Regional

The NCAA softball selection committee gave North Dakota State the ultimate national tournament challenge on Sunday. The Bison got Division I’s best team that features one of the best pitchers in the country.

NDSU, 33-23, faces No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Washington in the Seattle Regional in Seattle at 7 p.m. Friday, a game that will be televised nationally by ESPNU. Nebraska (29-27) and North Carolina (40-18) round out the double-elimination region field.

The Huskies are 45-6, have the all-time strikeout leader in Pac-10 Conference history in pitcher Danielle Lawrie and have won 17 games this season by the eight-run mercy rule. Lawrie was last year’s national player of the year.

They are the tournament’s overall third seed, which is mainly determined by a power poll.

“They threw us into the fire there,” said Bison head coach Darren Mueller.

NDSU wasn’t daunted last year when it won the Norman Regional beating a field consisting of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Bison beat Tulsa for the regional title to advance to the Super Regional.

“We want to prove that this tournament is not a one-hit wonder for us,” said second baseman Laurel Pipken.

NDSU has faced North Carolina and Nebraska in the past with the Cornhuskers a regular opponent in both regular season and fall exhibition games. The Bison have won in the fall.

“But we have not been able to beat them when it counts,” Mueller said. “On paper, it’s a tougher region than last year, a lot tougher with Washington being in there.”

The Bison defeated Western Illinois 3-2 Saturday to win The Summit League title and earn the automatic berth to the 64-team tournament. The Bison saw the Huskies play in the Arizona State tournament earlier this season.

It’s the ninth tournament appearance overall for NDSU including its Division II days. It is 27-17 in NCAA competition.

The Bison are 0-9 all-time against the Pac-10.

“We’re just going to go out and see what we can do,” Mueller said. “That’s how we went into the Oklahoma regional. It’s on national TV and we’re going against (Lawrie). It will be a lot of fun.”

Pairings

Seattle Regional

May 21-23 at Seattle 1) Nebraska (29-27) vs. North Carolina (40-18), 4:30 p.m.

2) Washington (45-6) vs. North Dakota State

(33-23), 7 p.m.

TV: ESPNU


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546