Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Braves excited about Alcorn State's first-round NCAA matchup

When they saw their name pop up on the television screen in the honors dormitory, the Alcorn State University softball team immediately ran the spectrum of emotions. "We were excited and shocked," said starting catcher Chelsie Dahlbeck, a 2008 graduate of Estero High School in Estero, Florida.

Excitement is understandable for the team from southwestern Mississippi that will be making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament. The shock factor can be attributed to Alcorn's first opponent in the 64-team field, which was announced Sunday night during a selection show on ESPNU. Alcorn, whose school's undergraduate enrollment is less than 2,700, will meet powerful Alabama, whose 48-9 record and Southeastern Conference title earned the Crimson Tide the tournament's No. 1 seed.

Dahlbeck knows a daunting task awaits Alcorn, but she said it's a challenge that the Lady Braves won't shy away from. "It's a good experience. I know they're looking at us as the underdog. I hope we do well," Dahlbeck said. The double-elimination Tuscaloosa Regional also includes Alabama-Birmingham and Atlantic Sun Conference champion Lipscomb.

Alcorn (24-24) generated a minor miracle just to get into the NCAA tournament. After losing its first game in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, Alcorn had to reel off five straight wins -- including the title clincher against Mississippi Valley State -- to earn an automatic bid.


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