No. 15 seed softball to host NCAA regional

Missouri is one of 16 teams that will host a regional.

No. 15 seeded ‪Missouri (41-16) will host an NCAA regional in Columbia for the sixth straight season, as announced Sunday evening. The Tigers will be joined by Bradley, Kansas and Nebraska in the double elimination round.

The Tigers are one of 11 Southeastern Conference teams to earn a spot in the tournament.

“Last year and the four years prior it was a given,” Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. “It’s been a struggle this year. We haven’t taken it for granted.”

Missouri will open the regional against Bradley on Friday. The Tigers handed the Braves a 1-0 loss earlier this season at the Citrus Classic.

A potential game versus Kansas would be the first meeting of the former Big 12 rivals since Missouri’s move to the SEC in 2012.

Junior infielder Corrin Genovese said the possibility of facing Kansas would be a “big statement game.”

“They’re scared to play us in football and basketball, so it’s awesome that we’ll have the first crack at them,” Genovese said.

Pending success in Columbia, Mizzou will be looking to secure a trip to its seventh consecutive super regional, where it could square off against an SEC foe, No. 2 seeded Alabama. The Tigers lost their chance at a share of the regular season conference title when they dropped a series to the Tide on May 3.

Senior outfielder Mackenzie Sykes said the team is trying not to get ahead of itself.

“You’re playing nine other girls on the field,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what uniform they have on.”

Earleywine has his sights set on a seventh appearance in the Women’s College World Series. He said Missouri has been training in earnest after a loss to LSU in the SEC Championship quarterfinals May 8.

“The last two days of practice were the hardest I’ve had since being at the University of Missouri,” he said. “I, and the team, would be disappointed if we’re not regional champions again this year.”

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