College Sports

Sacramento State softball ends its playoff drought. Why the title path won't be easy

Florida and Oklahoma met in the NCAA Women's College World Series last year in Oklahoma City. Sacramento State is in the Division I softball tournament this year.
Florida and Oklahoma met in the NCAA Women's College World Series last year in Oklahoma City. Sacramento State is in the Division I softball tournament this year. Associated Press file

The Sacramento State softball team is back in the playoff swing.

The Hornets will play in the postseason for the first time in a decade after winning the Big Sky Conference tournament for the first time over the weekend.

In a post on the team's Twitter page, screams of excitement greeted the announcement of the Hornets' opponent.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">UCLA....here we come! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StingersUp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StingersUp</a> <a href="https://t.co/2uBzzzlmWl">pic.twitter.com/2uBzzzlmWl</a></p>&mdash; Sac State Softball (@SacStSoftball) <a href="https://twitter.com/SacStSoftball/status/995850685185867776?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The team, which held a viewing party at Clubhouse 56 on Sunday, found out it will open play Friday against UCLA (50-4), the No. 3 overall seed that made the tournament as an at-large selection from the Pac-12 Conference. Friday's game begins at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

Sacramento State (31-18) is in the Division I championships for the fourth time overall, but the other trips came when the Hornets were members of different conferences — Western Athletic (1993, '95) and the now-defunct Pacific Coast Softball (2008).

The Hornets were led by sophomore utility player Suzy Brookshire, who hit .379 with 17 home runs and 50 RBIs this season. Three other everyday players hit over .300, including a team-leading .405 by senior second baseman Zamari Hinton.

Sacramento State's regional pairings also include Texas State (42-14) and Cal State Fullerton (33-23). It's a double-elimination round.

The Hornets are among the teams facing a tall task. Since the D-I softball tournament began in 1982, only 12 different teams have been crowned champion. Two of those teams, UCLA and Cal State Fullerton, are playing in the Los Angeles regional with Sacramento State.

The only past champion of the Women's College World Series not playing in this year's tournament is Fresno State.

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