Cal to Face Oakland in NCAA Regional Opener

May 11, 2003

BERKELEY - The defending national champion California softball team (41-18), which earned a No. 2 seed and its 18h consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament, will play seventh-seeded Oakland University (33-23) in a first round regional game, Thursday at 5:30 p.m. EDT, at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor, Mich. It will be the first meeting between the two schools.

DePaul (46-5-1) earned the No. 1 seed and will take on eighth-seeded Wright State (15-35) in the first round. Other teams at the site include No. 3 Michigan (40-14), No. 4 Notre Dame (36-15), No. 5 Missouri (29-18), No. 6 Western Michigan (30-22) and No. 8 Wright State (15-35).

The NCAA Tournament features, for the first time, 64 teams seeded into eight regionals of eight teams each. The regionals are double-elimination, and will be played on campus sites May 15-18. The winner of each regional advances to the Women's College World Series May 22-26, at ASA Stadium in Oklahoma City.

The Bears finished tied for third in the Pac-10 conference with a record of 10-11. It was Cal's highest conference finish since also coming in third in 1995.

Last year, Cal posted a perfect 8-0 postseason record in earning its first national championship and the first by any women's team in school history. The Bears allowed just five runs in eight games, including five shutouts, while scoring 22 themselves. Cal broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh with a two-out rally that produced six runs off defending champ Arizona.

In last year's regional at Fresno, Cal upset top-seeded Cal State Fullerton twice, including a 1-0 decision in the championship game, to give the Bears their fourth straight College World Series appearance.

The Bears are 46-38 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 35-26 in regional competition. The Bears have advanced to the College World Series seven times, in 1986, '92, '96, '99, '00, '01 and 2002. Head coach Diane Ninemire, now in her 16th year at the helm, has taken Cal to the postseason every year and to the World Series six times.

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