Twenty of the nation’s top collegiate softball teams, including three that advanced to NCAA Super Regional play, will converge on Columbus, Ga., Feb. 23-25 for the 2007 NFCA Leadoff Classic.
Those three teams, Michigan, Florida State and Massachusetts, lead a list of 17 NCAA regional squads who will compete in the 12th annual tournament at South Commons Stadium and Complex.
In addition to the three that claimed regional championships, Auburn, Baylor, Coastal Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hofstra, Illinois State, Lehigh, Nebraska, North Carolina, Southern Illinois, Tennessee Tech and Virginia Tech all extended their seasons with regional berths. DePaul, Mississippi State and Seton Hall round out the field of 20 squads that will take part in the 12th annual tournament.
Seven of the squads earned national rankings in the final 2006 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll, with three teams — No. 10 Michigan, No. 13 Georgia and No. 14 Nebraska — ranked in the top 15. Regional champions Massachusetts and Florida State moved into the final rankings at Nos. 24 and 25, while Baylor and Auburn earned concurrent rankings at Nos. 20 and 21.
Utilizing a slightly different format from years past, the Leadoff Classic features four, five-team pools. The four pool winners will compete in the gold championship bracket, while the second-place team from each pool will compete in the silver bracket. The third-place team in each pool will advance to the bronze bracket, and the fourth and fifth-place finishers in each pool will play in the blue and green brackets, respectively.