Mizzou softball to host NCAA regional as No. 8 overall seed
Missouri softball is back in the postseason and will host an NCAA Tournament regional for the first time since 2016.
The Tigers earned the No. 8 overall seed in the tournament and Columbia will serve as one of 16 regional hosts. As a top-8 seed, Missouri would also host a super regional if it advances.
Illinois-Chicago, Northern Iowa and Iowa State will join Missouri in the double-elimination regional at Mizzou Softball Stadium for a lone spot in the super regionals.
Missouri is scheduled to open against UIC at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Tigers head coach Larissa Anderson said Sunday night that she's been friends with Flames head coach Lynn Curylo for around 20 years.
"Finally, we're rewarded for our success," Anderson said. "It's been a grind for the last three, four years for these players. The three years that I've been here, first year we got sent out to UCLA, who goes on to win the national championship. Before that, they get sent to Oregon. So they've had some tough draws, and now to be able to be rewarded and to bring this back home and the number of texts that I've gotten from alumni that I did not coach that are so excited that this regional's going to be back in Columbia, you just want to say thank you.
"Thank you for everyone recognizing how hard these kids have worked, the success that we've had on the field. And I've always known in all the committees that I've sat on, the NCAA wants the best teams that are playing the best at the end of the season to be rewarded, and we are playing some of our best ball right now and it's just going to carry over into the playoffs.
"I'm proud and just really glad that they were recognized for doing what they've done all year long."
Before the selection show's cameras went live to the feed in Columbia of the Tigers celebrating, Anderson said her coaches and players had their fingers crossed in anticipation of the No. 8 seed being announced, the last guaranteed super regional host if seeding holds.
"We talk about it all the time, 1 through 9, I don't know how other teams pitch to us," Missouri catcher Hatti Moore said. "Every single person our lineup is solid, and it's never like someone comes up in a lineup and it's like, 'Uh.' We know they're going to get the job done. That's an amazing feeling because I've been on teams before that that's not the case. So the confidence that we have in each other, knowing how far we can get and just knowing our abilities, is something that's really incredible. I've never been able to experience that with any other team before."
Missouri is 38-15 in 2021 and went 15-9 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers are No. 12 in the RPI, a guide that ranks teams based on their wins and losses.
MU was eliminated in the SEC Tournament semifinals Friday by the conference's No. 1 seed Florida, who earned the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament
Mizzou Softball Stadium will operate at 50% capacity for the remainder of the season, with the venue holding around up to around 1,300 fans at half-full.
Six of the top-9 national seeds were from the SEC, with No. 3 Alabama, the No. 4 Gators, No. 6 Arkansas and No. 7 LSU also in line to host super regionals should they advance.
No. 9 Tennessee, No. 14 Kentucky and unseeded Georgia will also host regionals, but would need an upset of higher-seeded schools to host beyond this weekend.
Georgia is the only unseeded team hosting a regional, thanks to being among the 20 possible host sites selected by the NCAA a few weeks ago to limit travel because of the coronavirus pandemic. That list was cut to 16 on Sunday.
No. 13 Duke was not chosen as a possible host among the original finalists. The Blue Devils finished the season 14-1 and vaulted into the national seeds. The Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed in the Athens Regional.
Texas A&M, Auburn, Mississippi and Mississippi State earned at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina was the lone SEC team to not make the 64-team field.
Missouri hasn't advanced to the super regionals since 2016 and has hasn't reached the Women's College World Series since 2011, its third straight trip to Oklahoma City.
This marks the first time Mizzou Softball Stadium will host an NCAA regional. The last time the Tigers were a first-round host was in 2016, the final year of University Field.
"I can't wait. I think that capacity has gotten lifted at the right time," Missouri designated player Cayla Kessinger said. "I think Mizzou nation is ready. I think we're ready. This feeling isn't just for us. Us getting the No. 8 seed isn't just for Mizzou softball. It's for Mizzou as a whole. We're bringing back the legacy that girls in years past have left for us and the way they paved the way for us to even have a chance at this. And we're definitely getting Mizzou back to where it needs to be and I can't wait to see our fans there."
The most recent season where the Tigers hosted a super regional was in 2013 as the No. 6 overall seed, falling to then-No. 11 Washington in two straight games.
Missouri's last postseason appearance was in 2019, when the Tigers were the only team to defeat eventual national champion UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.
Contact Eric Blum at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.
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