Defending national champion Linfield is headed to Bloomington, Ill., for the NCAA Division III regional playoffs starting Thursday.
The Wildcats, 38-5 this season, earned the eight-team regional’s No. 2 seed and will play seventh-seeded Benedictine (Ill.) in an opening round game on Thursday at 2 p.m. Pacific time.
Linfield is expected to depart Tuesday for Illinois to compete in the eight-team regional hosted by Illinois Wesleyan University.
The NCAA selection committee announced the 61-team Division III playoff field Monday morning as part of a streamed internet selection show on NCAA.com.
Since winning its ninth straight Northwest Conference title, Linfield earned the No. 2 seed in the Bloomington Regional. Game times will be announced later by the host school.
Also receiving bids to the Bloomington Regional are host Illinois Wesleyan, St. Norbert (Wis.), Fontbonne (Mo.), Carthage (Wis.) Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Anderson (Ind.).
Linfield, which lost the NWC Championship Tournament to regular-season runner-up Pacific Lutheran, received an at-large berth to the regional tournament. The Wildcats finished one game ahead of the Lutes in the regular-season NWC standings. PLU is heading to Tyler, Texas, to compete in a six-team regional there.
The Bloomington Regional features three teams ranked among the Top 10 nationally. In the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll, Linfield is ranked No. 3, Illinois Wesleyan is rated No. 8, Carthage is 20th.
Thirty-five conferences have been granted automatic qualification and six independents were selected for the 2012 championship. The 19 remaining teams were selected on an at-large basis from automatic qualifying conferences and the remaining independent institutions.
Six regional sites will have eight teams competing to advance while seven teams will compete at one regional site and six teams will compete at another regional site. The eight-team regionals will be held May 10-14, and the six- and seven-team regionals will be held May 11-14. All regional sites will use a double-elimination format.
The eight-team Division III championship finals, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will be held May 18-22 at Moyer Sports Complex, Salem, Va.
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