FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -- The Summit League Champion North Dakota State Softball team will play No. 7 Minnesota in the Minneapolis regional to open the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament.
The Bison earned the Summit League's automatic bid after winning the conference tournament Saturday.
Players and coaches watched the Selection Show Sunday at the Scheels Center and many knew if Minnesota was hosting a regional the Bison would be placed there. What caught some of the team off guard was seeing they were playing the host Golden Gophers in the first round of the double elimination regional.
"We all kind of had an idea that Minnesota is probably going to host a regional, we're probably going to go there and it wasn't that we're not excited its just it wasn't much of a surprise for us but we're definitely excited to still be playing," Bison senior Katie Shoultz said after the bracket reveal.
North Dakota State head coach Darren Mueller echoed those sentiments.
"I really didn't think we'd be playing a seeded team right away and I think they believed that too," Mueller said. "You get 40-some wins and do that. But, you know, that's part of the whole selection thing anyways so I think that was probably the biggest surprise was, we figured we were going to Minnesota, just not that first game."
The Bison (42-14) will play Minnesota (41-12) Friday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN3.
The Bison and Gophers did not play each other this season. Weather forced the cancellation of the planned double header in late April, so the meeting Friday will be the first time the two teams have seen each other in over a year.
Drake and Georgia will open play at the regional Friday at 6 p.m.