April 28, 2003
INDIANAPOLIS - The University of Arizona is one of eight schools picked to host the 2003 NCAA Division I Women's Softball Championships May 15-18.
This is the first year the NCAA has named sites in advance of the team selections. Although host institutions are not guaranteed a bid to the tournament, the Wildcats are the top-ranked team in the country at 45-4 and currently atop the Pac-10 standings with a 14-1 record.
Each regional will feature eight teams, playing a double-elimination format. All regional games will be conducted Thursday, May 15, through Sunday, May 18.
The other seven sites and host institutions are Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Alabama); Fullerton, Calif. (Cal State Fullerton); Gainesville, Fla. (Florida); Fresno, Calif. (Fresno State); Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan); Lincoln, Neb. (Nebraska); and Austin, Texas (Texas).
The NCAA said site selections were based on geographic location, quality of facilities and quality of the experience for the student-athletes, including attendance history.
Arizona has been a host for NCAA Regionals 11 times, eight of those since Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium was built for the 1993 season. In its most recent year as host in 2001, the regionals drew 8,751 fans to Hillenbrand for the four-day tournament.
The field for the tournament will be announced at 7 p.m. (MST) Sunday, May 11, live on ESPNEWS. The bracket will be the first to include 64 teams since the championship began in 1982. Last year's field included 48 teams.
Twenty-six Division I conferences, including the Pac-10, receive an automatic berth in the field of 64, along with 38 at-large selections.
The 22nd Women's College World Series begins play with the eight regional champions Thursday, May 22, at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.