In what is becoming a rite of late spring, Kansas University’s softball team is headed back to the NCAA Tournament.
In Columbia, Missouri.
With the potential to face former Border War foe Missouri.
The Jayhawks earned their second consecutive NCAA bid — and second straight trip to Columbia — during the tournament’s selection show on Sunday night.
KU (38-13) will face Louisville (30-17) in the opening round of the double-elimination regional Friday at University Field.
“It’s exciting this year because last year we were still on the bubble, and we weren’t sure if we were going to make it in,” KU senior infielder Chanin Naudin said. “But this year was a little bit of a relief to know that we did enough during the season to where it wasn’t such a stress and weren’t sure if our season was over yet. It’s fun to realize that we have more games to play.”
Longtime former conference foe Missouri is the regional host and No. 10 national seed.
“I’m really excited for our team,” KU coach Megan Smith said. “I think they’ve worked extremely hard, played a tough schedule and did an unbelievable job with our tough schedule. So, definitely deserving of the bid, and we’re excited to go back to Columbia to play some great teams from the ACC and the SEC. I am proud of our girls, and we’re going to get to work on Tuesday to prepare.”
Kansas is making its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and second under Smith. The Jayhawks concluded the regular season recording their most victories (38) of the Smith era and the best winning percentage (.745) since KU went to the Women’s College World Series in 1992 and posted a .818 winning percentage.
The Jayhawks concluded the season with a three-game sweep of Iowa State on Friday at Saturday in Ames, Iowa.
Louisville is making a 12th-straight NCAA postseason appearance, including an 0-2 mark last season.
In 2014, Kansas opened the Columbia regional with a victory over Nebraska, but consecutive loses to Missouri and the Huskers ended the Jayhawks’ postseason run.