AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns softball team will start the NCAA tournament at McCombs Field.
The Longhorns were given the No. 13 national seed by the NCAA softball tournament selection committee Sunday, and they’ll host Seton Hall, Texas State and Texas A&M.
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The Longhorns play the Pirates, who are 42-16 this season and Big East champions, in their first game at 4 p.m. Friday while the Bobcats and the Aggies will take each other on to open the tournament at 6:30 p.m. It’s a double-elimination tournament, and the team left standing at the end will advance to the super-regional round against the Knoxville regional champion. No. 4 Tennesse, Louisville, Northern Kentucky and Indiana are in that regional.
It’s the Longhorns’ 18th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. Head coach Mike White said he expected to get a seed anywhere from 11-13, so he’s fine with where they were seeded.
“We’re happy to be able to host, and that was our first job to be able to host,” White said.
Left-handed junior pitcher Estelle Czech, a main contributor in the circle during the Longhorns’ run to the Women’s College World Series championship series last year, said the team is excited and “ready to put on a show.”
“We’re excited to host and ready to show everyone what we got,” Czech said.
Texas finished second in both the Big 12 regular season standings and the tournament, falling to top-seeded Oklahoma 6-1 in the tournament final Saturday. The Longhorns had to come from behind in their first game of the Big 12 tournament against Texas Tech 7-6 in eight innings, and then they made easy work of the Kansas Jayhawks 9-1 in the tournament semifinals.
Texas (42-13-1) has one of the most productive offenses in the country. The Longhorns are No. 4 in the country in batting average at .332 and No. 13 in runs per game at 6.29. Mia Scott and Ashton Maloney are both hitting .390 this season and Reese Atwood leads the team with 11 home runs.
In the circle, the Longhorns are tied for 25th in the country with a 2.18 ERA. Freshman Citlaly Gutierrez leads the team with a 2.00 ERA and Mac Morgan has 16 wins this season with 71 strikeouts.
For Texas State, it’s the Bobcats’ 11th NCAA tournament appearance and fourth time starting the tournament in Austin. The Bobcats finished 34-23-1 overall and were 6-3 in neutral-site games. They were an at-large selection out of the Sun Belt Conference.
Texas A&M finished 33-19 overall and 12-12 in the SEC, and when the camera went to the Aggies’ watch party during the selection show’s broadcast, several players were shown giving the “Horns Down” hand signal. With a potential Longhorns/Aggies matchup in the tournament, White said that “inspired us a little bit.”
“We’ll have to see if we can get that right,” White said.