INDIANAPOLIS—The No. 20/24 University of Hawai`i softball team (43-11, 20-4 WAC) is heading to the Seattle Regional in the 2012 NCAA Softball Tournament. The regional No. 2 seed Rainbow Wahine will open the tourney against No. 3-seeded Minnesota (35-16) of the Big Ten conference on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (PT). Washington will host the No. 4 seed in the region, Portland State at 6 p.m.
This is the 11th time that head coach Bob Coolen has led the Rainbow Wahine to the NCAA tournament—fifth time in the last seven seasons. He is the only coach in Hawai`i softball history to lead teams into post-season play. Hawai`i was one of thirty-one conferences that awarded automatic qualification after winning the Big West Conference title. The remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top-16 teams were seeded nationally and will play at campus sites this weekend. Team pairings were determined by geographical proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not paired during regional competition.
Hawai`i has face two of their regional opponents earlier this season—Portland State and host Washington. The ‘Bows defeated Portland State twice, 7-0 and 8-3 in the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament and split with Washington—who was ranked No. 16 at the time—with UH winning 5-2 and falling 1-3 in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic title game. Hawai`i hasn’t played Minnesota since 1990 and the two schools are 1-1 in their series history.
The ‘Bows, who were the pre-season pick to win the conference, won the Big West conference title with a 20-4 record. It’s the second BWC title for Hawai`i. The ‘Bows were co-champions in 1994 with UNLV. This was the first season back in the Big West after spending the last 16 seasons as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. It marked the first time in program history that UH has won conference titles in back-to-back seasons.
Seattle Regional – May 17-19 at Seattle, Wash.
Friday, May 17
3:30 pm – Hawai`i (43-11) vs. Minnesota (35-16)
6:00 pm – No. 11 seed Washington (38-15) vs. Portland State (25-29)
Saturday, May 18
1:00 pm – Winner’s Bracket
3:30 pm – Consolation Bracket
6:00 pm – Elimination Bracket
Sunday, May 19
1:00 pm – Championship Game
3:30 pm – Championship Game (if necessary)