MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon softball team gathered early for Monday's announcement.
A little more than a week since clinching their first berth in a NCAA Regional, the Lady Hawks were ready for the NCAA Division III Selection Show to begin.
Once the selection show started, it didn't take long for the Lady Hawks to see what they had been waiting for. As the bracket for the University of Texas-Tyler Regional was filled in, the room erupted in cheers as Huntingdon's first-round game with Pacific Lutheran was displayed.
"I've followed the Division I selection shows before and this is something I've wanted our team to experience," senior shortstop and Great South Athletic Conference Player of the Year Aleah Payne said. "It was exciting to watch our name come up and be able to enjoy that moment with our team."
Huntingdon (28-13) will play the fifth-ranked Lutes (37-11) at Texas-Tyler on Friday at 4 p.m.
"Since the conference tournament, it's like we've been floating along," Huntingdon head coach Gynger Williams said. "Seeing our name come up today, that just made it real for all of us."
Huntingdon won the GSAC tournament on April 29 to clinch a trip to the Regional. But the Lady Hawks had to wait eight days to find out their opponent and the location of their regional.
"The waiting has been nerve-wracking. So, it was exciting to find out where we are playing," senior Angela Barkman said. "Our first goal this season was to win conference. We accomplished that and now we've set a new goal to have success at the national level."
The double-elimination tournament features four teams ranked in the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 poll. In addition to fifth-ranked Pacific Lutheran, host Texas-Tyler (36-7) is ranked seventh, Redlands (31-11) is ranked 15th and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (28-13) is ranked 18th. Huntingdon, Louisiana College (28-13) and Birmingham-Southern (34-9) are unranked. Louisiana College is ranked fourth in the Atlantic Region.
A total of 61 teams are playing in eight regionals across the country. The winners of the eight regionals advance to the national tournament in Salem, Va., on May 18-22.