Minnesota Duluth received the eighth and final seed of the NCAA Division II Central Region tournament and will play top-seeded and nationally No. 1-ranked Central Oklahoma at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Edmond, Okla.
UMD was ranked seventh in last week's regional rankings and went 2-2 in the NSIC tournament, putting the Bulldogs in a precarious position with conference tournament automatic qualifiers up for grabs that could have potentially disrupted the order.
UMD is one of four NSIC teams to make the Central Region tournament, joining second-seeded Winona State (50-7), third-seeded Augustana University (51-9) and seventh-seeded St. Cloud State (43-16).
The Bulldogs (33-20) didn't find out they were in until this morning's NCAA Division II selection show. It will be UMD's ninth NCAA postseason appearance and third in the last four years. NSIC foe Minnesota State-Mankato (37-19) was one of the teams left out.
"We were sweating it out - honestly, a lot," UMD coach Jen Walter said. "SCSU went 3-2 in the tournament and had good numbers. Mankato went 2-2 with really good wins and losses. I think we barely got in over Mankato."
The Bulldogs will take it.
UMD and Central Oklahoma didn't meet during the regular season.
UMD features its big three, players who hit for power and average: Jordyn Thomas of Hermantown, who leads the team with a .327 batting average while adding 10 home runs and 37 RBIs, as well as Lauren Oberle (.315 BA, 10 HRs, 36 RBIs) and Jessica Bren (.287 BA, 12 HRs, 37 RBIs). Sophomore Taylor Koehnen (.291 BA, 24R, 27 RBIs) and Sammi Sadler (27R, 14 RBIs), one of only two seniors on the team, also provide offense.
Breanna Swint (18-11, 2.76 ERA, 111K) and Sam Pederson (15-8, 3.13 ERA, 75K) split time on the mound.
Central Oklahoma (45-5) is the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association regular season and tournament champions, going 23-3 in regular-season conference play and 4-0 in the MIAA tournament, outscoring the opposition 37-8. The Bronchos are led offensively by senior hometown product JoBi Heath (.412 BA, 22 2Bs, 14 HRs, 71 RBIs) and on the mound by Bailey McKittrick (24-2, 1.81 ERA, 102K) and Sydney McLeod (18-3, 2.33 ERA, 63K).