RUSTON, La. – For the first time since 2008, Louisiana Tech softball is headed to the NCAA Tournament.
Just over 24 hours after winning the 2017 Conference USA title in dramatic fashion with a 1-0 victory over FIU Saturday afternoon in the championship game in Hattiesburg, the Lady Techsters found out tonight that they will be heading to the Tuscaloosa Regional as the No. 3 seed.
Tech (37-22) joins host Alabama along with No. 2-ranked Minnesota and Albany to form one of 16 four-team fields that will compete in the three-day, double elimination regional starting on Friday. The Lady Techsters open play against the 2-seeded Minnesota Gophers (54-3) on Friday.
“I am so proud of this group,” said Tech head coach Mark Montgomery, who will be participating in his third NCAA Tournament as a head coach (two with Centenary). “As a coaching staff we knew this team was talented enough to get to the NCAA Tournament. It was just a matter of us doing our job as coaches and them doing their jobs as student-athletes.
“This team had to overcome a lot of adversity this year with injuries. At times we had to overcome self-inflicted wounds, but these young ladies never stopped believing in themselves. I know they are excited to represent their school, this program and the Ruston community in the postseason.”
The NCAA Tournament appearance will be the 10th in the program’s history and the first since the 2008 team captured the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title.
The Lady Techsters earned the tournament berth the hard way, fighting through the elimination bracket of the Conference USA Tournament. However, Tech won three games in a 24-hour span of time, including wins over regular season champion and No. 1 seed Marshall (4-2) and No. 2 seed FIU (1-0). Tech also defeated No. 8 seed WKU Friday with a dramatic 1-0 10-inning victory.
Montgomery and Co. have recorded back-to-back-to-back 30-plus win seasons, a program first since 1997 through 1999. Tech captured the West Division title of Conference USA and earned the No. 3 seed in the league tournament. After opening the tournament late Wednesday night with an 11-1 win over Charlotte, Tech fell 7-1 Thursday to FIU.
However, the Lady Techsters pitching staff then didn’t allow a single earned run in 24 innings in wins over WKU, Marshall and FIU behind the arms of Krystal De La Cruz and Preslee Gallaway. Morgan Turkoly, Tori Charters and tournament MVP Pauline Tufi all provided game-winning hits in the three wins while the LA Tech defense made numerous game-changing plays.
Tech joins Conference USA foes FIU and Marshall in the 64-team field.