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In search of sixth title, Oklahoma headlines NCAA softball bracket

(Nathan J Fish/The Oklahoman/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Oklahoma headlined the field of 64 teams selected Sunday for the 2022 NCAA Division I softball tournament.

After leading the country all year long, the reigning champion Sooners will once again head into the NCAA postseason on top — despite falling to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament title game for just their second loss of the season.

“I’m extremely proud. It’s a hard place to live,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso told ESPN’s Holly Rowe on the NCAA Softball Selection Show. “Any team that’s lived up there and tried to stay number one knows what I’m talking about. So a lot of pressure comes along with it. But at the same time, it’s been such a pleasure.”

The top 16 teams will host regionals at campus sites beginning Friday. For the first time, Central Florida, Virginia Tech, Duke and Clemson will host regionals.

Of the 64 teams, 60 have seen NCAA tournament action before. Grand Canyon University, North Texas, Murray State and UNC Wilmington will all make their first ever appearances in the tournament.

The SEC, led by No. 4 Arkansas and No. 6 Alabama, had 12 teams selected – the most of any conference. The Pac-12 and Big Ten each have seven teams in the field, with the Pac-12 led by No. 5 UCLA and the Big Ten led by No. 9 Northwestern.

Following the opening weekend, super regionals will be held on eight campus sites starting May 26. The winners will advance to the Women’s College World Series, which will be spread out over nine days for the first time.

A mere 13 schools have won a NCAA title since the tournament began in 1982. Of the 13, 11 have been chosen in this year’s bracket. The Sooners, who have won three of the last five championships, will be looking to defend last year’s title.