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College softball: Bulldogs, Saints in NCAA tourney

Minnesota Duluth and Colorado School of Mines will face each other for a third time this season, this time as opponents in the NCAA Division II softball tournament.

Minnesota Duluth and Colorado School of Mines will face each other for a third time this season, this time as opponents in the NCAA Division II softball tournament.

UMD (31-15) and Colorado School of Mines (36-22) meet in the first round of the Central 1 Regional at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D.

This marks the fifth time in school history and third time in Jen Banford's six-year head coaching tenure that the Bulldogs have secured an NCAA berth. They enter the tournament with 19 victories in their past 22 games, despite dropping two games over the weekend in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament.

The Orediggers, of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, beat UMD 7-6 and lost 6-1 in the Bulldogs' season openers Feb. 18 in Golden, Colo.

RMAC tournament champion Regis College (32-22) faces NSIC tournament champion Augustana (45-8) at noon in the other regional matchup.

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The winner of the three-day, double-elimination tourney will meet the champion of the Central 2 Regional bracket, which is comprised of host Minnesota State-Mankato (48-12), Metro State of Denver (34-16), Wayne (Neb.) State (36-15) and Winona State (34-11), in a best two-of-three Super Regional series May 20-21.

The Bulldogs also advanced to NCAA postseason play in 2010, 2007, 2002 and 1996, and made three appearances in the NAIA national tournament (1991, 1990 and 1988).

St. Scholastica in NCAA tourney for first time since 2006 debut

St. Scholastica returns to the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in five years, but the Saints must contend with one of the top teams in the nation in the opening game of the double-elimination regional tournament.

The eighth-seeded Saints (28-13) meet fourth-ranked and top-seeded Luther College (37-4) at 11 a.m. Thursday at Eau Claire, Wis.

The Saints received one of 41 automatic bids in the 60-team field after winning the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference tournament Saturday at Kenwood Field. The remaining field consists of 17 at-large choices from automatic qualifier conferences, and two from non-automatic qualifier conferences.

Scholastica and Luther have met just twice previously, most recently in 1995. Luther won both times.

The Saints' only other NCAA appearance came in 2006 in Indianola, Iowa, where they won their opening-round game against 15th-ranked Washington University of St. Louis before falling twice to No. 1-ranked St. Thomas and No. 8-ranked Wartburg College.

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The other six teams at the Eau Claire regional are No. 2 seed Wisconsin-River Falls, No. 3 St. Thomas, No. 4 North Central (Ill.) College, No. 5 Wisconsin-La Crosse, No. 6 Wisconsin-Eau Claire and No. 7 Ripon College.

  • Leading the Saints will be sophomore catcher Bonnie Kowalcyzk, who was named UMAC Player of the Year on Monday. Kowalczyk is hitting .448 with a .717 slugging percentage and 34 RBIs. She committed just three errors and caught a pitching staff that posted a league-best 2.38 ERA. Other Saints named to the first team were junior third baseman Theresa Tauer, who has five home runs and 33 RBIs; and senior pitchers Jen Falk (10 wins, 1.59 ERA in conference, 52 strikeouts) and Brittni Johnson (2.31 ERA). Kowalczyk and Johnson also were chosen for the All-Defensive team.

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