May 13, 2012
OXFORD, Ohio - Sitting in Oxford's Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant Sunday evening, the Miami University softball team learned its NCAA Tournament fate. The RedHawks will head to the Knoxville regional hosted by the seventh seeded University of Tennessee. Miami will open the double-elimination regional against the host Lady Vols on Friday at 6 p.m. Virginia Tech and UAB have also been selected to this regional and will open up play at 3:30 p.m.
Miami earned the third automatic bid in school history by winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday. The RedHawks had an incredible day, needing to win three games without a loss in order to take the title. They did just that with senior pitcher Jessica Simpson allowing only one run (unearned) in 21 innings pitched in a 3-1 victory over Western Michigan, followed by 2-0 and 4-0 wins over Central Michigan. After losing its tournament opener to CMU, 1-0, on Thursday, Miami won five games in a span of 29 hours to take the tournament crown.
The RedHawks enter the NCAA Tournament with a record of 40-18. They won the MAC East Division and were second overall with a 16-6 record. Miami is led by Simpson, with a 31-13 record and a 1.06 ERA. The 31 wins, along with her 346 strikeouts are both single-season school records, breaking the records she set last season. She won the MAC Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season, and was named the MAC Tournament MVP. At the MAC Tournament she passed the 100-win mark and recorded her 1,000th career strikeout. She is the all-time winningest pitcher in MAC history.
Miami is also a strong hitting team with seven players hitting .285 or higher. Freshman outfielder Shanyn McIntyre leads the way with a .352 batting average, while senior Daniela Torres is the top power threat with seven home runs and 30 RBI on the season.
Tennessee is 46-10 overall and went 22-6 in the SEC. The Lady Vols fell in the SEC semifinals to Florida on Friday, breaking a 19-game losing streak. Miami is 1-5 all-time against Tennessee, last playing in the 2005 NCAA tournament (also in Knoxville) and dropping a 9-0 decision in five innings.
Virginia Tech is 40-19 overall and went 12-8 in the ACC. The Hokies made it all the way to the ACC title game before falling to Georgia Tech on Saturday. Miami is 1-6 all-time against Virginia Tech. The two teams met earlier this season on Mar. 10 in Clearwater, Fla. The RedHawks held a 2-0 lead early, fell behind, 4-2, and then scored two runs in the top of the seventh to send it to extra innings. Using the international tiebreaker rule, both teams scored in the ninth inning. The Hokies were able to bring another run home in the 10th to secure a 6-5 win.
UAB is 37-20 overall and went 17-7 in Conference USA. The Blazers fell to Marshall in the CUSA semifinals on Friday. The RedHawks won the schools' only meeting back in 2006 by a 4-0 scoring.
Check with MURedHawks.com later this week for a full tournament preview.
2012 Knoxville Regional
Friday, May 18
3:30 p.m. ET UAB vs. Virginia Tech (Game One)
6 p.m. ET Miami vs. Tennessee (Game Two)
Saturday, May 19
1:30 p.m. ET Winner Game One/Winner Game Two (Game Three)
4 p.m. ET Loser Game One/Loser Game Two (Game Four)
6:30 p.m. ET Loser Game Three/Winner Game Four (Game Five)
Sunday, May 20
1:30 p.m. ET Winner Game Three/Winner Game Five (Game Six)
4 p.m. ET (if necessary) Rematch of Game Six