While final exams end May 13, the Lehigh softball team still has some things to take care of before its year ends.
After winning the Patriot League Tournament last weekend with a 2-0 sweep over Bucknell University, Lehigh (39-7, 16-2 Patriot) moved on to the NCAA Tournament, where it will face Texas A&M University in its first game.
The opening round in the tournament, known as the Regionals round, is double-elimination style. The winner of this matchup will face the winner of a game between No. 11 seed University of Oklahoma and University of Central Arkansas. The two losing teams will then face off, and then the winner of that game will get a chance to redeem itself by facing one of the original two winning teams. The full NCAA bracket is explained here.
This is the team’s first appearance in the tournament since 2012, which also took place in Oklahoma. It’s also the ninth time Lehigh is competing in the Regionals in program history.
The Mountain Hawks have some history against Texas A&M, eliminating the team in both the 2006 and 2009 tournaments in the Regional round. They hold a 3-1 record against the Aggies in tournament play all time. They also have never faced Central Arkansas and are 0-2 in the Regional round against Oklahoma.
Lehigh defeated Bucknell 5-4 and 8-0 in the finals of the Patriot League Tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The team finished 5-0 against Bucknell for the season and is now on an eight-game winning streak.
Junior infielder Alexis Watanabe has been one of the Hawks’ best players this year, hitting for a .469 batting average, which is the ninth highest in the entire nation. Freshman outfielder Nicole Yozzo and junior outfielder MacKenzie Velasquez have also been strong contributors on offense, hitting .381 and .371 respectively. Yozzo also had one of the highest stolen base percentages in the country at 63 percent.
On the pitching side, senior Emily Bausher and sophomore Christine Campbell have been the team’s primary starters all season, going 21-5 and 16-2 respectively. Both of them also had a season ERA of under 2.00.
Lehigh will face Texas A&M on May 15 at 1:30 p.m. in Norman, Oklahoma, which will be televised on the SEC Network. Its next game in the Regional round will take place the next day at either 2:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. depending on the results of Friday’s games.