BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After capturing its second straight Patriot League title and seventh in the last nine years, the Lehigh softball team learned its NCAA Regional fate on Sunday. The Mountain Hawks are headed to Norman, Okla. to face the No. 4 national seed Oklahoma Sooners Friday at 7:30 p.m. (CT) at the OU Softball Complex. Oregon State and Tulsa are the two other teams in the region.
The Mountain Hawks will open with a Big XII opponent for their third straight regional trip. Lehigh will also be returning to the scene of its first NCAA softball regional appearance as the Mountain Hawks went 1-2 in the 2001 Norman Regional. The Mountain Hawks led the defending national champion Sooners early before Oklahoma rallied for a 9-2 win. Lehigh also faced Oklahoma at the 2005 NFCA Leadoff Classic, dropping a 5-0 decision to the Sooners.
“It’s a place that we know,” said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. “Oklahoma is a very strong team. They hit it well. They play great defense and (Keilani) Rickets is a tremendous pitcher. We knew we were going to have our hands full, but we’ll go out there and see what we can do.”
The Mountain Hawks earned the Patriot League’s automatic bid into the field of 64 after winning their 12th league tournament championship. Lehigh (40-17) became the first Patriot League softball team to not allow a run in the league tournament after posting a 2-0 win over Lafayette and 4-0 and 2-0 wins over Army to clinch the program’s eighth NCAA tournament berth.
Oklahoma (45-8) is one of six teams from the Big XII in the tournament. The Sooners captured the conference’s automatic bid after winning the Big XII regular season title. Oklahoma reached the Women’s College World Series for the sixth time last season.
Lehigh has never faced Oregon State, an at-large selection from the Pac-12, while Tulsa won the Conference USA tournament title and automatic bid. The Lehigh-Oklahoma match-up was the last game revealed on the selection show, which aired on ESPNU Sunday evening.
“It was pretty anticlimactic,” said senior captain Audra Wood, who hails from neighboring Texas. “I’m excited because it’s just north of Texas. I personally know a couple girls on Oregon State, so I’ll do some scouting and recruiting and we’ll see what we can find.”
The NCAA Regional field consists of 64 teams, divided into 16 four team regionals, with the regional winners advancing to play a best-of -three super regional against another region winner. The eight super regional winners will advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
The winner of the College Park regional will face the winner of the Tucson, Arizona regional in the super regionals. No. 13 seed Arizona is the top seed in that regional.
All-session tickets for the 2012 NCAA Softball Norman Regional will be on sale online through Oklahoma at www.SoonerSports.com and over the phone beginning Monday at 8 a.m. (CT).
Prices are $40 for reserved all-session tickets, $25 for general admission adult all-session tickets and $20 for general admission youth all-session tickets. Each day of the regional is considered one session and a session ticket is good for all games in one day. Children under two years of age are admitted free.
If tickets remain, single session tickets will go on sale the first day of competition at the OU Softball Complex Box Office at least 90 minutes prior to the first scheduled game. Single session tickets are $15 for reserved tickets, $10 for general admission adult tickets and $8 for general admission youth/senior citizen tickets.
To order all-session tickets, visit SoonerSports.com or call 405-325-2424.
Fans that are unable to make the trip to Norman can follow all of Lehigh’s NCAA regional action with live audio at Lehighsports.com through Lehigh’s partnership with Stretch Internet. Local radio coverage is still pending as of Sunday evening.
NCAA Norman Regional (All times Central)
Friday, May 18
Game one: Tulsa vs. Oregon State, 5 p.m.
Game two: Lehigh vs. No. 4 Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 19
Game three: game one winner vs. game two winner, 1 p.m.
Game four: game one loser vs. game two loser, 3:30 p.m.
Game five: game three loser vs. game four winner, 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 20
Game six: game three winner vs. game five winner, 1 p.m.
Game seven: game six winner vs. game six loser (if necessary), 3:30 p.m.