Two Nebraskans will be competing with a distinguished group of pitchers at the Eugene softball regional.
Karissa Hovinga is the No. 2 pitcher for host Oregon, which at 46-6 is the No. 2 overall seed for the NCAA tournament. Krista Menke is the ace for North Dakota State.
NDSU faces Fresno State on Thursday at Howe Field, followed by the Ducks’ game with Brigham Young.
Menke, a senior from Friend, is second in the nation with 362 strikeouts, third in shutouts (11), fifth in wins (32), sixth in strikeouts per seven innings pitched (10.6) and ninth in hits allowed (4.04). She was the Summit League pitcher of the year this spring for a second time. She’s 32-4 with a 2.05 ERA and also has a 3.627 GPA.
“We’re excited. We face teams like this all the time,” Menke said. “We prepare ourselves for this moment.”
Fresno State junior Jill Compton is 28-10 with 235 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.10, No. 48 in the NCAA.
Hovinga, a senior from Papillion-La Vista, is 10-1 with a 3.03 ERA. She pitches behind junior Cheridan Hawkins, a player of the year finalist. Hawkins has an ERA of 1.39, a batting average against of .140 and nine shutouts. She’s 27-3 with 224 strikeouts.
BYU sophomore McKenna Bull leads the NCAA with 34 wins, against seven losses, and has 238 strikeouts and eight shutouts along with an ERA of 1.96.
Fresno State (40-14) won the Mountain West Conference and is back in the tournament for the first time since a 30-year streak of appearances was broken three years ago. North Dakota State (43-9) won the Summit League and is in the postseason for the sixth time in seven years.
Hovinga is part of a class of four seniors who have won 197 games over their four-year careers, the most in any four-year stretch in Oregon history. The Ducks are the Pac-12 champions for the third straight year.
BYU is 39-12 and won the West Coast Conference.