Cal lands at Baton Rouge Regional, opens against Southern Illinois

Cal’s softball team is headed to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

The Golden Bears (36-17) received an at-large bid to the Baton Rouge regional and will open play in the double-elimination event on Friday against Southern Illinois (41-9) at 12:30 p.m. PDT.

The Salukis earned an automatic 4-2 victory over Illinois State, thanks to a grand slam by Elizabeth Warwick in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game.

Cal won twice in three NCAA games a year ago before being sent home by eventual national champion Oklahoma.

The Golden Bears, eliminated in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament by rival Stanford on Thursday, will be making their 35th trip to the NCAA.

Baton Rouge host LSU (40-15) received the No. 9 overall seed and will open play Friday against SWAC champions Jackson State (32-17). LSU, just 12-12 in the fierce Southeastern Conference, is making its 18th consecutive NCAA appearance, 25th overall.

LSU is ranked No. 3 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings, while Cal is ranked No. 22. Southern Illinois is ranked No. 51 and Jackson State is ranked No. 227.

The 64-team NCAA field, including 32 at-large bids, was revealed Sunday, with Big 12 champion Texas (47-7) securing the No. 1 overall seed for the first time. Oklahoma (49-6) is No. 2.

The SEC secured 13 tournament berths.

Two more Bay Area schools will face off in Friday’s opener. Stanford (43-13) received the No. 8 seed and will host Saint Mary’s (30-12).

Pac-12 tournament and regular-season champion UCLA (37-10) was named the sixth seed and a total of seven teams were selected from the Pac-12 in its final season. The conference holds 24 NCAA softball titles.