History was made Monday as the No. 7-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lion softball team was selected as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional, giving the team hosting duties in the regional tournament for the first time in program history.
This is the third time in the program's five-year history that the team has made it to the NCAA postseason.
The announcement was made Monday morning with the release of the NCAA Division II Selection Show, which revealed the seedings for the Regional Tournaments. A&M-Commerce's No. 2 seed is the highest in school history for the team, and means that one half of the bracket will be hosted right here in Commerce.
As the No. 2 seed, A&M-Commerce will begin by facing No. 7 Dixie State, while third-seeded Tarleton State and sixth-seeded Cameron will duke it out in the other opening round. The matchups ensure that at least one team from the Lone Star Conference will make it to the Regional Final round.
Texas A&M-Kingsville was given the first seed and hosts the other half of the bracket. The winner of each half will then face each other in the Super Regional, hosted by the highest remaining seed.
The Lions finished the regular season with a record of 38-12, the second-highest regular season win total in program history. A&M-Commerce finished in second place in the Lone Star Conference and runners-up in the LSC Tournament last weekend, falling 3-1 to the host Javelinas in the title game.
Saturday's defeat was the Lions' fourth loss of the season to A&M-Kingsville, and it was the third game in the season series between the two squads to be decided by two runs or fewer.
The Lions come into the playoffs as the best defensive team in the nation, sporting a team fielding percentage of .986. They are also second in the country with 1.6 home runs per game, top-10 in the country with a .432 team on base percentage, top-10 in runs per game with 7.2 and top-10 in slugging percentage with .569.
A&M-Commerce Head Coach Richie Bruister said on Monday that getting the opportunity to host the Regional Tournament as such a young program is a huge honor.
"It really is an honor for this city, university and program," Bruister said. "When we started this program we built a best-in-class facility, and now we get to showcase that on a bigger stage."
Bruister added that he expects the players to be battle-ready come Thursday thanks to their tough schedule.
"I looked at it recently, and we have played almost 20 games this season against top-25 ranked teams," Bruister said. "They are prepared for tough challenges, they've had a hard schedule all year."
The Regional Tournament begins on May 9 and culminates in the Championship game on May 11. The Lions will first play on Thursday against Dixie State. In the tournament, one loss does not spell the end, and the last team standing to have not lost twice takes the crown.
NCAA Division II South Central 2 Regional Tournament
John Cain Family Field
3 p.m. – Cameron vs. Tarleton
5:30 p.m. – Dixie State at A&M-Commerce
Noon - Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
2:30 p.m. - Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
5 p.m. - Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner
Noon - Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner
2:30 p.m. - Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if necessary)