SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Summit League revealed the 2021 Softball Championship bracket over the weekend, with South Dakota State earning the top seed following its first league title in program history.
The six-team tournament will take place beginning Wednesday, May 12 and will run through Saturday. The tournament venue is at Tharaldson Park at the Ellig Sports Complex in Fargo, N.D.
All first-round games will be played on Wednesday as single-elimination contests. Contests for the remainder of the tournament will then become double-elimination with the championship game taking place on Saturday.
South Dakota State and number-two seed Nebraska-Omaha earned first-round byes and will advance to the semifinal round on Thursday.
Rounding out the field are #3 North Dakota State, #4 and league newcomer Missouri-Kansas City, #5 South Dakota and #6 North Dakota. Western Illinois failed to make the tournament with their 6-14 league record, despite finishing 16-29 overall.
The first pitch of the tournament will take place at 3 p.m. Central time Wednesday as Missouri-Kansas City takes on South Dakota. The winner will advance to face South Dakota State on Thursday.
In the second game of the opening tournament doubleheader, North Dakota State and North Dakota will face off at 5:30 p.m., with the winner taking on Nebraska-Omaha on Thursday.
Thursday’s semifinal doubleheader games will kick off at noon Central, with the winners advancing to the winner’s bracket contest on Friday. Meanwhile, the losers’ bracket fires away in a win-or-go-home scenario to get a shot at the League title.
Friday’s games will kick off at 1 p.m. to determine the winner of the winner’s bracket, with a 3:30 p.m. game to determine the winner of the losers’ bracket to determine the final championship faceoff on Saturday.
The opening pitch for the championship game on Saturday will be at 1 p.m. with an if-necessary game at 3:30 p.m. The winner will earn the League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Summit League tournament schedule
Wednesday, May 12
G1: (4) Kansas City vs. (5) South Dakota | 3 p.m. CT
G2: (3) North Dakota State vs. (6) North Dakota | 5:30 p.m. CT
Thursday, May 13
G3: (1) South Dakota State vs. G1 Winner | 12 p.m. CT
G4: (2) Omaha vs. G2 Winner | 2:30 p.m. CT
G5: G3 Loser vs. G4 Loser | 5 p.m. CT
Friday, May 14
G6: G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner | 1 p.m. CT
G7: G6 Loser vs. G5 Winner | 3:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, May 15
G8: G6 Winner vs. G7 Winner | 1 p.m. CT
G9: If Necessary | 3:30 p.m. CT
A look at the NCAA Softball Tourney
The 2021 tournament hasn’t quite developed regarding the 64-team bracket. Of those teams, only 31 have automatic qualifiers, due to the Ivy league not declaring a conference winner.
Per NCAA guidelines, four of these automatic qualifiers go to the regular-season champions of the Big Ten, Big West, Mountain West, Pacific-12 (Pac-12), and West Coast Conferences. Based on each respective conference, Michigan, Cal State-Fullerton, Fresno State, UCLA, and BYU have earned their tournaments. These champions were determined as the result of not holding a conference championship this year.
The remaining 27 auto-qualifiers will be determined via the remaining conference championships taking place this week with the conference tournament champions earning their tournament bid.
The remaining 32 spots will be determined by a selection board with selection announcements being made at 9 p.m. Eastern Sunday on ESPN2.
Depending on certain teams, Regionals will either begin on Thursday, May 20 or Friday, May 21. This is dependent on whether there is a no-competition-on-Sunday policy at a given school. The conclusion date in either scenario is Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23.
Super Regionals will take place the following week, which will either be May 27-29 or May 28-30. The winners will advance to the Women’s College World Series, which is June 3-9.
Who do you think will represent the Summit League in the NCAA Tournament? Let us know in the comments.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.