DePaul will take its national seed on the road, however, as they have been sent to participate in the Columbia, Mo. regional hosted by the University of Missouri. Joining the Tigers and Demons in the regional will be the Bradley Braves and Illinois Fighting Illini. The following is a preview of each team.
Missouri: The No.14 Tigers (45-9) come into the NCAA Tournament on a hot streak after winning their second Big 12 Tournament title. The team finished off Oklahoma for the championship with a complete game shutout by freshman Chelsea Thomas.
Missouri's four-headed pitching staff held their opponents to a mere .192 batting average, while accounting for a 1.31 ERA. The staff is led by Thomas (13-4), freshman Kristin Nottelman (11-2) and senior Stacy Delaney (14-3). Delaney leads the team with 120 strikeouts, while Thomas has added 100 K's and a team-low ERA of 1.14.
As impressive as the team's pitching has been, their offense has been even better. The team batting average of .323 and on base percentage of .416 led the conference. All-American Rhea Taylor leads the team with a .413 batting average, while swiping an impressive 33 bases. Senior third baseman Lindsey Ubrun leads the team with 15 home runs and 49 RBI.
Missouri went 14-6 at home, 9-1 and 22-2 on neutral fields this year. The Demons and Tigers have faced off a total of 12 times, with each team taking six. The two last met in 2007, in the Carbondale Regional when DePaul defeated Missouri twice on their way to the College World Series.
Bradley: The Braves also come into the Columbia Regional on a hot streak, having won their last nine games, including a run to the Missouri Valley Conference championship. One of only two under .500 teams in the tournament, the Braves went 6-4 on neutral fields and 12-12 in conference on their way to their first ever NCAA appearance.
The pitching staff is led by senior Ashley Birdsong who carries a 1.73 ERA in addition to her 19-10 record. In 211 innings pitched, the Oregon native has struck out 212 batters, while walking only 35.
Janay Mitchell leads the Bradley offense with a .307 batting average, adding 12 stolen bases to her arsenal of talents. Senior Alycia Bachkora leads the team with a powerful 10 home runs and 34 RBI.
DePaul and Bradley have faced off 12 times, but none since 1998. The Demons lead the series 7-5.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini earned an at-large berth after going 29-15 and 12-7 in Big 10 play. They have won five of their last six, including a sweep over twelfth seeded Northwestern. The Illini are making their third NCAA appearance, their first since 2004 though.
Freshman Monica Perry is the team's ace, having started 37 games in the circle for the Illini. While compiling a 24-13 record, she has racked up 217 strikeouts and thrown 25 complete games, including four shutouts.
Sophomore Danielle Zymkowitz leads a three headed monster at the plate, with an average of .408. Two other hitters, Hope Howell and Hollie Pinchback are both hitting over .320 as well. The aforementioned duo leads the Illini in RBI with 37 and 31, respectively.
DePaul has faced Illinois 16 times, with the Demons leading the series with a 9-6-1 count, including their meeting this season, a 6-2 win in Champaign.
First pitch for the Blue Demons on Friday is 2:30 when they face off against Bradley. For more information on this series and others, check out mutigers.com, depaulbluedemons.com and ncaa.com.
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