Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Women's Softball: UIS softball clinches NCAA Division II Tournament berth, home field advantage

University of Illinois Springfield never doubted it would reach the NCAA Division II Softball Tournament.

They were not disappointed.

The NCAA committee unveiled the 64-team bracket on Monday and the Prairie Stars clinched not just a berth but also home field advantage as the highest seed in the Midwest 2 Region double elimination bracket.

The No. 2-seeded Stars will make their second tournament appearance and first-ever at home in their nine-year Division II history against No. 7 Saginaw Valley on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

No. 3 McKendree will play No. 6 Missouri St. Louis in the other first round matchup.

“To be able to host is huge,” UIS coach Shannon Nicholson Guthrie said. “It’s exciting to stay here at UIS. We definitely play better at home. It was a big step for our team.”

UIS, ranked No. 18 nationally, is 15-3 at home this season.

“We always talk about protecting the prairie,” Guthrie said. “That’s something we get fired up about. We don’t want anybody taking that away from us.”

The Stars last made the NCAA tournament in 2012, but this is the first time under Guthrie who was recently named Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year in her fourth season. This will also be a new experience for the rest of the team. UIS won the GLVC regular season title outright but was eliminated from the conference tournament after losing two shutouts.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 7, 2018.

Read the entire article online.