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A look at Northwestern Softball’s history hosting Regionals

The Wildcats sure like to play their postseasons at The J.

Entering its final week of the regular season, the Northwestern Softball team has put together a 38-7 record, including an 18-2 mark in conference play. If the Wildcats win two of three games against the Minnesota Golden Gophers this weekend, NU will clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title, which would be its first since 2008.

With all of the good mojo emanating out of Evanston, postseason hopes are high. That includes being able to watch the ‘Cats duke it out with top-notch competition in mid-to-late May from Northwestern’s own Sharon J. Drysdale Field.

Out of the 64 teams selected to compete in the NCAA Tournament each season, only the top 16 become regional hosts, with the top eight hosting Super Regionals. Through the latest rankings, the Wildcats are No. 7 in RPI, No. 8 in D1 Softball’s Top 25 and No. 8 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Division I poll. In other words, Northwestern is virtually a lock to host regional action during the weekend of May 20-22.

If the ‘Cats do earn the prestigious mark, it would be the fifth time under Kate Drohan NU has earned home-field advantage to open postseason play; the prior four seasons in which it hosted a regional are 2019, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

When regional games are played from The J, the Wildcats have accrued a stellar 12-2 record and have gone 4-for-4 in making the Super Regional. In fact, Drohan & Co. reached the College World Series in two of those seasons — 2006 and 2007 — and are hoping to return to Oklahoma City for the first time in 15 years.

The most recent iteration of the Evanston Regional occurred in 2019. The 16-seeded Wildcats dominated Detroit Mercy in Round One, went 1-1 against Louisville and Southern Illinois in Round Two and swept the two-game series against U of L in the Regional Finals. NU was ultimately swept by No. 1 Oklahoma in the Super Regionals.

Though not yet guaranteed to host a regional, the ‘Cats will indubitably be selected among the best 64 teams in the nation. 2022 would mark the 17th time that Northwestern would be selected for postseason play in Drohan’s 21 years at the helm of the program.

During her tenure, the Wildcats haven’t been a behemoth in regional action overall, going just 24-22. In total, NU has advanced to the Super Regionals five times since 2002, meaning 80% of those trips have come when hosting a regional.

Backed by a prolific offense of Rachel Lewis, Jordyn Rudd, Maeve Nelson, Hannah Cady and more — and boasting one of the best pitchers in the nation in Danielle Williams — Northwestern is armed and dangerous entering postseason play. By prevailing in the Big Ten Tournament from May 12-14, the Wildcats will all but assure themselves a postseason date right on the shores of Lake Michigan with waves of purple behind them.