No. 2 California Opens the NCAA Tournament Against BYU

May 15, 2005

BERKELEY - The No. 2-ranked California softball team earned the second seed in the 2005 NCAA Division I Softball Tournament and will open play against BYU, Thursday, May 19 at a regional hosted by Fresno State. Long Beach State and the host Bulldogs, who will also open play on May 19, round out the regional field. As of late Sunday afternoon, game times had not yet been disclosed.

Cal, the 2005 Pac-10 Conference co-champion, will be making its 11th overall trip to Fresno for regional play. The last time the Bears opened the NCAA Tournament in Fresno was 2002. That year, Cal swept the regional in four games en route to the NCAA title.

'(Fresno) will be one of the toughest regionals again. The strength of the field reminds me of 2002,' said Cal head coach Diane Ninemire, who will be leading the Bears to their 20th-consecutive NCAA appearance. 'There are four quality teams in this regional and it should be a great tournament.'

Though the format for the 2005 tournament has changed, the regional sites will still be a double-elimination affair. The 16 regional winners will advance to the super regionals (May 27-29), a best-of-three format with the eight teams moving on to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla. (June 2-6).

Should Cal advance out of Fresno, the Bears will meet the victor of the Auburn Regional, which includes 15th-seeded Baylor, Florida State and Florida A&M.

Of the 16 regional sites for this year's tournament, Fresno will be the only one to open play on Thursday. BYU, due to religious conflicts, cannot play on Sundays and thus, the regional is scheduled to conclude on Saturday. The other 15 sites will play Friday through Sunday.

BYU (44-12) earned an automatic berth into the field by defeating UNLV, 2-0, in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship May 14. The Bears have never faced BYU in the NCAA Tournament but are 6-0 all-time against the Cougars. The two teams were scheduled to play at the Capital Classic Tournament earlier in the year but rain forced the cancellation of that game.

Fresno State (41-10), the only school to participate in all 24 NCAA Softball Tournaments, won its eighth consecutive Western Athletic Conference title this season. Long Beach State (39-14) captured the Big West Conference crown.

Overall, the Pac-10 enjoyed an exceptional draw as all eight schools qualified for the tournament. Five of those squads are among the field's top eight teams.

Tickets for the regional will go on sale through the Fresno State ticket office beginning Monday, May 16 at 9 a.m.

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