For the first time since 1988, the Iowa State softball team has been selected to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones were selected to play in the Columbia Regional in Columbia, Missouri.
The regional round is made up of 16 groups of four teams. Each of these groups will be competing in double elimination brackets, with the winner of each group advancing to the super regional round.
The Columbia Regional is made up of Iowa State, the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The first game for Iowa State will be at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday against UNI. The game is available live on ESPN 3.
The UNI Panthers finished the season with a record of 31-18 (20-7 in Missouri Valley Conference play). UNI finished second place in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and was the runner-up in the conference tournament.
Iowa State and UNI are familiar opponents, as they have faced off twice in the regular season. The Cyclones beat UNI 12-2 on Feb. 12 in the UNI-Dome for the Doc Halverson Classic.
The Cyclones returned to Cedar Falls on April 14, this time playing in UNI's home stadium, Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex. The Panthers were victorious this time around, defeating Iowa State 10-2.
Head Coach Jamie Pinkerton said the team is completely focused despite the excitement of making the NCAA Tournament.
"One thing about playing opponents that you already played is that there is no uncertainty of what you are up against," Pinkerton said. "They are dialed in and they are excited to get out there."
Pinkerton said once your team is in the tournament, every single team has a chance to win.
With the first NCAA Tournament game since 1988 coming up for Iowa State, the players are focused, prepared and excited to perform.