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NCAA Tournament: Weber State’s ‘Fun grit’ softball draws Texas to Seattle area | News, Sports, Jobs

BRIAN WOLFER, Special to Standard Examiner

Weber State softball players hug after winning the Big Sky Tournament Championship Game Saturday, May 14, 2022 in Ogden. (BRIAN WOLFER, Special to Standard Examiner)

After the best regular season and tournament in Big Sky Conference history, Weber State softball learned its destination for the NCAA Tournament Sunday night during the draft show on ESPN2.

And for its 38-10 overall record with multiple wins over other teams in the tournament, and coming through the Big Sky tournament, the team that head coach Mary Kay Amicone describes as having “fun sense.” was rewarded with an unprecedented regional seed.

Weber State is the third seed from the Seattle area and will face Texas (38-17) at 3:30 p.m. MT on Friday. The Wildcats head to the University of Washington (35-15), the No. 13 national seed and regional host. The Huskies will start with regional fourth seed Lehigh (30-18-1).

WSU’s first game will air on the Longhorn Network and stream on the ESPN app. The regional round is a double-elimination schedule, so Game 2 for the Wildcats hinges on Friday’s results.

The 16th and final national seed was scheduled to take place in Texas and Central Florida; he went to UCF, so Weber State may be attracting the best regional second seed of the entire field.

The Weber State team gathered in the auditorium team room at the football facility to watch the show and sent a video feed back to ESPN for broadcast. The Wildcats erupted when their name was called from across the Washington area, and then Texas came right after with what seemed like a stunned non-reaction.

The Wildcats had victories over Texas A&M, San Diego State and Fordham, all of which made it into the tournament.

WSU head coach Mary Kay Amicone said on Saturday that the opportunity to be rewarded in this way rests with her team realizing how good they are and with the university supporting the program’s ambitions.

“They’ve turned a corner at the start of pre-season and what I think I admire the most is just the program, including the university’s support for a really tough pre-season. It takes a lot of money,” Amicone explained. “When we go out there and play in the Judi Garman tournament, we know we’re going to play against UCLA and Texas A&M, and that’s what we want.

“All that stuff, including playing at UNLV, that turned the corner for them. They knew they were good and had the makings of an incredible team. So all of that has built their chemistry that they have and their confidence.

WSU also had one of three wins over Utah this season; neither Utah (27-27) nor BYU (42-10) made the field as an at-large selection. BYU shared the West Coast Conference title with Loyola Marymount but LMU received the automatic offer via a tiebreaker.

Utah finished 46th in the RPI rankings, according to the latest update available on the NCAA website. Weber State was 50th and BYU 52nd.

Weber State’s goal since the start of this season has been to repeat its 2019 success. After winning the regular season and Big Sky Tournament titles in 2019, the Wildcats drew a regional hosted by UCLA in Los Angeles . After an admirable 6-0 loss to UCLA, the nation’s No. 2 team, Weber State beat Cal State Fullerton 7-3 for the first NCAA Tournament win in Big Sky’s program and history, then fell 7-0 against Missouri.

“It’s nice to have that experience,” senior outfielder Chloe Camarero said Saturday. “That first time, I was super nervous when we were at UCLA. I felt like the whole time I was just passed out, I didn’t know what was going on. Now being in that position, it’s is like, ‘OK, let’s do it again.’ Surrounding stuff doesn’t matter, let’s just go out and play ball.

WSU returns to Seattle after being sent there in the 2016 NCAA Regional Round. The Wildcats also played in Louisiana in the 2015 Regional Round.

“We like to say they are having a lot of fun. They are serious, but they have fun. Everything we do from September 1 to this time has contributed to their life experience,” Amicone said. “The things we do with team building, it’s fun to watch them and their families sticking together. All of those things have helped us have that spunky mentality and contribute to that fun culture.”

The NCAA Tournament results won’t ultimately take away from Weber’s historic season, but may prove to bolster the team’s claim to all-time status in all sports on campus.


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