Texas softball claims No. 1 overall seed in NCAA Tournament, will open tourney against Siena

After one of the best regular seasons in school history, the Texas softball team will enter the NCAA Tournament as the top overall seed for the first time, the Longhorns found out Sunday.

Texas (47-7) will open the 64-team tournament at McCombs Field Friday at 3 p.m. against Siena. St. Francis (Penn.) and Northwestern will also compete in the Austin regional, with the top team advancing to the NCAA Super Regional.

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The Longhorns will host the first two weekends of the NCAA Tournament pending an upset loss. Texas won’t have to leave Austin until the College World Series May 30-June 7 back at Devon Park.

According to record-setting catcher Reese Atwood, Texas deserved its selection as the top overall seed even though the Longhorns lost to No. 2 overall seed Oklahoma 5-1 in Saturday's Big 12 Tournament final, which snapped the Longhorns' 18-game winning streak. Texas won two of the three games against the Sooners in the regular season and topped the NCAA's RPI ratings after the regular season.

"I'm not surprised," said Atwood, who set the school's single-season records for home runs and RBIs this season while earning the Big 12's player of the year award. "I think this team deserves what we got. I think we proved it throughout the year that we deserve the No.1 seed, and I'm super excited and proud of this group to be able to move forward and host regionals and hopefully be here for Super Regionals. That's the goal and then, obviously, make it to the World Series."

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Texas, which started playing softball in 1997, had not received a top-two seed from the NCAA selection committee since the graduation of former All-American pitcher Cat Osterman in 2006. The players broke into a roar while gathered in the program's Performance Development Center adjacent to McCombs Field to watch the selection show.

"I was obviously very excited," pitcher Citlaly Gutierrez said. "I didn't even know that it was our first time in school history having the one seed, so I think that was really exciting. And it proves how hard we work throughout our entire season so far."

But the work is just beginning, Texas coach Mike White told his team after the selection show. He said his team earned the top seed based on a tough schedule both in the Big 12 and during nonconference.

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"Our goal was to be in the top eight, and we set ourselves up with a really tough schedule right out of the gate and played a lot of tough teams in preparation to get into the top eight," he said. "That was the first mission achieved, so now the season really starts."

The Longhorns have now qualified for 24 NCAA tournaments and have appeared in six College World Series. Their lone appearance in a title game came in 2022, when they lost to Oklahoma. This Texas team seems set up to claim that elusive national title, but White shrugged off the idea of having the No. 1 overall seed add to the pressure for his squad.

"Texas always has got a target, you know?" White said. "Now, the target just got a little bit bigger."

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas softball claims No. 1 overall seed in NCAA Tournament