staff, May 14, 2012

Two Big Ten teams were selected to the NCAA Division I Softball Championship field, the NCAA selection committee announced Sunday. Five-time reigning Big Ten champ Michigan headlines the duo, while Northwestern earned an at-large berth into the tournament. Both teams begin competition Friday. View the NCAA interactive bracket.

Michigan secured the Big Ten?s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship after winning the Big Ten Championship on Saturday. The Wolverines, who have appeared in nine Women?s College World Series, will open their 18th straight and 20th all-time NCAA tournament appearance against Kentucky in the Louisville Regional.

Michigan is joined in the regional by host and 15th-seeded Louisville and Valparaiso in the double-elimination round. The regionals? games will be televised by ESPN2.

[Read's NCAA tourney story]

Northwestern makes its 13th appearance in the national tournament, with four previous visits to the Women?s College World Series, and first since 2009. The Wildcats were selected to the Austin Regional and will open against the host and No. 6 overall seed Texas. Auburn and Houston make up the other half of the double-elimination regional site.

[Read's NCAA tourney story]

The 64-team field is divided into 16, four-team double-elimination regionals, which begin Friday. The 16 regional winners advance to super regionals, where eight will emerge as Women?s College World Series participants.