Posted: May 10, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After capturing its fifth Patriot League Tournament title in the last six years, Lehigh learned its NCAA tournament fate on Sunday night. The Mountain Hawks are headed to Gainesville, Florida and will open regional play on Friday against a familiar foe in Texas A&M, a team Lehigh defeated twice in the 2006 NCAA Amherst Regional. Rounding out the four-team regional are the host and No. 1 national seed overall Florida as well as Florida A&M.
The Mountain Hawks earned the Patriot League’s automatic bid into the field of 64 after winning their tenth league tournament championship. Lehigh (36-16-1) scored nine runs in the top of the eighth inning to defeat rival Lafayette 9-0 on Saturday, clinching the program’s sixth NCAA tournament berth.
“First of all, it’s great to be in the NCAA Tournament,” said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan after the brackets were unveiled. “The fact that we get to travel somewhere is kind of fun. Gainesville is a great location. I know (Florida) coach (Tim) Walton well from being out recruiting. Playing Texas A&M again in the first round of the NCAA tournament will be fun for us.”
Senior Ali Torborg is one of five Lehigh seniors who were freshmen on the 2006 team that beat the Aggies twice.
“There’s a lot of excitement from our team,” explained Torborg. “Our previous two trips we were to UMass and we were anticipating going back there. It’s exciting to be going to a new place, with warm weather. Everyone is looking forward to it.”
Texas A&M (31-19) one of seven Big XII teams in the tournament reached the championship round of the Women’s College World Series last season, losing to Arizona State. The Mountain Hawks and Aggies were paired up in Amherst, Massachusetts in 2006 and Lehigh stunned the softball world by defeating Texas A&M twice and knocking the then-No. 13 national seed out of the tournament. Lehigh has never faced Florida or Florida A&M in softball.
“The selection committee has a good sense of humor,” joked Troyan. “Texas A&M from the Big XII is an outstanding program. Jo (Evans) does a great job and we’ll have our hands full.”
“We’re going in with a lot of confidence,” added Torborg. “We feel we can compete with these teams and are looking forward to going down there and being competitive and hopefully winning a few games.”
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 Gainesville regional will face the winner of the Tallahassee regional in the super regionals. No. 16 seed Florida State is the top seed in that regional.
Game times and ticket information for the Gainesville 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.
Photos © 2009, Mark Covelle
Watch the post NCAA Softball Selection Show