The Missouri Tigers softball team didn’t have to wait long once Sunday’s selection show started to learn its NCAA tournament fate.
The Tigers were the third team announced and will play California to open the double-elimination regional in Norman, Oklahoma.
The four-team regional field includes the host OU Sooners, who earned the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. The Sooners will open the regional by playing Hofstra.
The Tigers’ first opponent, Cal, enters the tournament with an at-large bid out of the Pac-12. The Golden Bears finished the season 33-19-1, 9-14-1 in conference play.
They entered the Pac-12 tournament as the No. 6 seed. Cal fell in the quarterfinals against Utah, which went on to win the tournament championship.
The Bears are led by Pac-12 all-conference infielder Tatum Anzaldo, who is hitting .390 with 21 RBIs. Senior third baseman Makena Smith also made the first-team all-conference team, with 14 home runs and a .352 batting average.
For Mizzou, a win over Cal likely means a matchup with No. 1 Oklahoma. The Sooners enter the tournament 51-1 overall and finished with a perfect 18-0 record in the Big 12.
Oklahoma cruised through its two Big 12 tournament games, beating a top-10 team in the finals with a 6-1 victory over Texas to earn the championship. Its lone loss this season came on Feb. 19 in the Getterman Classic against Baylor.
If Missouri coach Larissa Anderson and company drop their opening game against Cal, it will set her up for a reunion with her former squad. Anderson spent 17 seasons at Hofstra, the final four as head coach, before taking the MU job ahead of the 2019 season.
Hofstra made the tournament by winning the Colonial Athletic Association championship. The Pride are 29-25 this season after walking off Towson 5-4 in the CAA tournament’s final elimination game.
Missouri enters the regional after beating Mississippi State in the first round of the SEC tournament before falling to Alabama. The Tigers, who were the No. 13 seed in the conference tournament, are 34-23 (7-17 SEC).
Game time and television details for the regional were not immediately announced.
The Star has partnered with the Columbia Daily Tribune for coverage of Missouri Tigers athletics.