BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Hours after defeating rival Lafayette to claim its fourth Patriot League tournament title in five years, Lehigh learned its NCAA tournament fate on Sunday night. For the second time in three years, the Mountain Hawks are headed to Amherst, Massachusetts to play Stanford on Friday afternoon. Rounding out the four team regional are a pair of familiar northeast region foes in host Massachusetts and Princeton.
The Mountain Hawks earned the Patriot League’s automatic bid into the field of 64 after winning their ninth league tournament championship. Lehigh (38-15-1) dropped its first game Sunday 2-1 to Lafayette but battled back to win the tournament’s deciding game by a 10-3 score.
Stanford (46-12), one of seven Pac-10 schools invited to the regional tournament, is the overall No. 12 seed in the field of 64.
Lehigh last appeared in the NCAA regionals in 2006, when the Mountain Hawks were sent to Amherst, where they stunned the nation by defeating No. 13 seed Texas A&M twice before bowing out to the host Minutewomen in the regional finals.
“The nice thing is there will be no surprises,” said head coach Fran Troyan. “We know exactly what we’re getting into. We played Princeton this year so we know we can compete with them. Really, when you get to this level you’re going to play somebody good no matter what.”
Senior tri-captain Kate Marvel is one of eight Mountain Hawks who were on the 2006 team.
“It will be interesting to go back to Amherst,” said Marvel. “A lot of us know what its like up there, but it’s a different year with a different team. We’re excited to go. It’s going to be wild.”
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 Amherst regional will face the winner of the College Station, Texas regional in the super regionals. No. 5 seed Texas A&M is the top seed in that regional.
Friday’s meeting between Lehigh and Stanford will be the first ever meeting between the schools in softball. The Mountain Hawks have faced Massachusetts twice, dropping both games against the Minutewomen in the 2006 NCAA tournament. Lehigh and Princeton are familiar foes, having met every year since 2003. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Tigers 3-1 at Kaufman Field back on April 22.
Game times and ticket information for the Amherst regional will be finalized on Monday. All of Lehigh’s NCAA tournament action can be heard on 91.3 FM WLVR as well as online at Lehighsports.com.