Lehigh heading to UCLA for NCAA Regional

Less than nine hours after defeating Boston University for the second time to win the Patriot League championship, the Lehigh softball team learned its NCAA Tournament fate Sunday night. The Mountain Hawks are headed to Los Angeles, to face national No. 5 seed UCLA.

The game will be the second of two games scheduled for Friday at Easton Stadium, with game time set for 11:30 p.m. (ET). Lehigh’s NCAA Regional opener will also be televised nationally on ESPN2. Friday’s opening game, set for 9 p.m. (ET) matches Cal State Fullerton and San Jose State.

“UCLA is arguably the most storied program in softball,” Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan said. “For us to go out and have an opportunity to go and play against one of the greatest programs ever is going to be a real treat.”

The Mountain Hawks (36-18) will be making their 10th NCAA Regional appearance and first since 2015. Lehigh will be playing NCAA regional games in California for the first time. In the Mountain Hawks’ two previous appearances, in 2012 and 2015, Lehigh was sent to Norman, Okla.

Lehigh has never faced UCLA, one of the nation’s most storied softball programs and winners of 12 NCAA championships. The Mountain Hawks are 0-6 all-time against members of the Pac-12 Conference, including an 0-3 mark this season as Lehigh dropped two games at Stanford in the Stanford Easton Classic in mid-March and also dropped a 3-0 decision to California as part of its spring break trip to northern California. Lehigh last visited southern California in 2014 when its current seniors were freshmen. As part of that trip, Lehigh split its games between San Diego and Los Angeles.

The regional trip to Los Angeles marks a homecoming for half of Lehigh’s roster as the Mountain Hawks have nine players from California, including six southern California natives. Juniors Lindsay Phillips and Cassie Lajeunesse will compete closest to home, with Phillips hailing from Los Angeles and Lajeunesse from Rancho Palos Verdes.

The Mountain Hawks won their sixth consecutive Patriot League regular season title but needed to rally through the losers bracket of the Patriot League Tournament after dropping a game Friday to Boston University. Lehigh eliminated Army 5-3 on Friday and after Saturday’s championship round was pushed back a day, the Mountain Hawks defeated Boston University twice on Sunday, by 1-0 and 4-3 scores to capture their league-best 14th Patriot League Tournament title.

Senior Christine Campbell was named Tournament MVP after pitching all 14 innings on Sunday and allowing just two earned runs, highlighted by a two-hit shutout in Sunday’s first game. Junior Nicole Yozzo leads the team with a .331 batting average, while classmate Carolyn Wright has a team-best 41 RBIs. Senior Vicky Lattanzio had a strong Patriot League Tournament with a tournament-record nine RBIs in five games.

UCLA owns a 42-13 record that includes a 16-8 mark in Pac-12 play. The Bruins tied Washington for third place during the Pac-12 regular season.

Cal State Fullerton enters the postseason with a 33-21 mark and earned the Big West Conference’s automatic bid with a 16-5 league record. The Titans are the only team in the regional that Lehigh has a history with. Cal State Fullerton swept a doubleheader from Lehigh during the Mountain Hawks’ first-ever California trip in 1998.

San Jose State tops the Mountain West Conference with a 16-8 conference mark and a 36-17 overall record. The Mountain Hawks and Spartans have never met in softball.

Lehigh is making its 10th NCAA Regional appearance overall, and its ninth in the last 14 years. The Mountain Hawks are 7-18 all-time in NCAA Regional play and defeated Central Arkansas in 2015 for their most recent NCAA win. Campbell threw 6.2 scoreless innings in a 3-0 Lehigh victory.

The winner of this double-elimination regional will face the winner of the Oxford, Mississippi regional in the Super Regionals next weekend. Lehigh has never won a regional, but reached the regional finals in both 2006 and 2009, eliminating Texas A&M to get to the regional finals in both years.

Every game of all 16 regionals will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, but as of Sunday night only the ESPN2 coverage for the Lehigh-UCLA game has been confirmed.
Los Angeles Regional Schedule (all times Eastern)
Friday, May 19
Game 1 – 9 p.m. – San Jose State vs. Cal State Fullerton – ESPN3
Game 2 – 11:30 p.m. – Lehigh at UCLA – ESPN2

Saturday, May 20
Game 3 – 5 p.m. – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
Game 4 – 7:30 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 5 – 10 p.m. – Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Sunday, May 21
Game 6 – 7 p.m. – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
Game 7 – 9:30 p.m. – Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary)

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