By Matt Leon
WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — For the second straight season, the West Chester University softball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament.
The Golden Rams will open play in the tournament on Friday when they play Bloomsburg out in California, Pennsylvania. West Chester earned an at-large berth.
“This is the first year that I felt very comfortable that we would get in (as an at-large),” West Chester head coach Diane Lokey tells KYW Newsradio. “Because we went into last week’s (conference) tournament being the third seed in the region and we knew we wouldn’t fall that far.”
West Chester will bring a 36-19 record into the tournament. The 36 wins are one short of the program record set by last season’s NCAA Tournament squad.
“We have a group of seven seniors, who were very experienced at the tournament last year,” Lokey says. “They really worked hard to get back and now they’ve reached their goal.”
West Chester has a great dual threat on the roster in senior Kim Murl. She leads the team with a .342 average and is also the ace on the mound with an 18-9 record and 2.19 ERA.
Bloomsburg is 27-17 heading into Friday’s tournament opener.
“What really jumps out at me is that they are very similar to us,” Lokey says. “They have a large number of seniors, too. They have consistent pitching, they have some really strong hitters and they play good defense.”
The Golden Rams next win, by the way, will be Lokey’s 300th as West Chester’s head coach. She is already the winningest softball coach in program history.
Last season, West Chester advanced to the NCAA Super Regional before being eliminated by Kutztown.
West Chester and Bloomsburg will get underway at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.