FAYETTEVILLE- The University of Arkansas softball team received an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament and faces Boston University on Friday in the Berkeley Regional, the NCAA announced on Sunday. With an overall record of 27-26 for its 2012 campaign, this is the first time since the 2009 season that the Razorbacks have made the NCAA Tournament. "I am so happy and proud of our players," said head coach Mike Larabee. "We kept telling the kids to keep grinding and working really hard good things will happen. Now we get to go to California and potentially face the number one seed in the country. This is a great opportunity for our team and our program." The Berkeley Regional is composed of four teams including the No. 1 overall seed California, Arkansas, Boston University and Iona, with Arkansas taking the two seed. The Razorbacks are set to face Boston University, while California and Iona will play in the opening round. This is a double elimination tournament with the winner advancing to a super-regional the following weekend.The Razorbacks made their way into the NCAA tournament by virtue of their challenging schedule. Arkansas collected several quality wins over ranked opponents this season including then-No. 7 Baylor, No. 3 Alabama, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 11 Georgia, to mention a few.
The Razorbacks are led at the plate by SEC Freshman of the Year, Devon Wallace who averaged .345 in the 53 regular season games. Wallace recorded 48 hits, 14 home runs, 36 RBI and 51 walks while slugging .712. Sophomore shortstop Clarisa Navarro also was clutch for the Razorbacks at the plate this season batting .339 while collecting 58 hits, 29 RBI and 102 total bases.
Freshman Kimmy Beasley and junior Chelsea Cohen spent most of the time in the circle with Beasley throwing 124.1 innings and Cohen 189.1. Beasley was named to the Freshman All-SEC Team, recording 3.32 ERA while striking out 97 batters and only allowing 36 walks for her freshman campaign. Junior Hope McLemore made her return to the circle at the end of the season appearing in three games and collecting a win over No. 11 Georgia.
The trip to the NCAA tournament is the first for head coach Mike Larabee, at Arkansas. Larabee will be making his third trip to the tournament as a head coach. He took Wright State to the tournament in 2007 and 2008. Larabee also was an assistant for Illinois in 2003 and 2004 when they played in the tournament.
As a program, Arkansas has made the NCAA Tournament four times (2000, 2002, 2008 and 2009) in its 15 years with a record of 3-8.
This year’s NCAA Tournament consists of 64 teams, nine of which come from the SEC. Alabama earned the automatic bid for winning the SEC Tournament after defeating Florida, 10-1 in the championship game. Other teams from the conference making the Tournament include Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU and Georgia. The SEC is the only conference to receive nine bids for the tournament with the PAC-12 right behind receiving eight.
The NCAA Tournament comes to a close with the top eight schools playing in the Women’s College World Series on May 31- June 6.