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Originally published May 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM | Page modified May 14, 2013 at 12:59 PM

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Huskies home again for start of the NCAA tournament

The Washington softball team will open the NCAA tournament at home for the fourth straight season, hosting a four-team regional at Husky Softball Stadium starting Friday.

Special to The Seattle Times

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The Washington softball team will open the NCAA tournament at home for the fourth straight season, hosting a four-team regional at Husky Softball Stadium starting Friday.

The Huskies open against Big Sky Conference champion Portland State (25-29) at 6 p.m.

Washington (38-15, tied with Arizona State for second in the Pac-12 at 16-8) is seeded 11th overall in the tournament. Should the Huskies advance to a super regional (softball's Sweet 16) as they have done the past four seasons, they will face the winner of the regional hosted by No. 6 seed Missouri (35-11).

Also coming to Seattle: Hawaii (43-11, Big West Conference champs) and Minnesota (35-17). Hawaii is ranked 20th in the most recent coaches' poll and split two games with UW in Honolulu Feb. 8 and 9. Unranked Minnesota lost to Wisconsin 9-3 Sunday in the Big Ten championship game.

Hawaii and Minnesota play Friday at 3:30 p.m. The winner faces the UW-Portland State winner Saturday at 1 p.m. in the double-elimination format. The regional's deciding game will be played Sunday at 1 p.m. or, if necessary, 3:30 p.m.

UW coach Heather Tarr, who has guided Washington to seven super regionals in her eight previous seasons, called the tournament draw fair.

"I think we played well enough at times this season to be a top-eight seed," she said, "but we're happy to be playing at home. Our crowds for the last couple of weekends have been awesome."

Just two other Pac-12 teams are seeded in the field: Oregon (No. 3) and Arizona State (No. 5). Last year six Pac-12 schools were seeded. Washington was No. 16 in 2012.

Eight Pac-12 teams are in the tournament, but UCLA (11 national titles) and Arizona (eight national titles) are unseeded and will be playing on the road along with Stanford, California and Oregon State.

In years past, the opening round of tournament play was quietly considered a break from playing talent-stacked conference foes. But things are changing. When Alabama beat Oklahoma for the 2012 title, it was the first year since 1986 the NCAA championship game did not include at least one Pac-12 team.

"There's definitely a lot more parity now," Tarr said. "There is no relief for anyone because there are so many really good teams out there. There's no easy road anymore."

Notes

• Portland State won the inaugural Big Sky tournament with a 4-0 win over Southern Utah. "They've played up here before," Tarr said. "They won't be intimidated."

• Is UW, ranked 12th in the most recent coaches' poll, ready? "I think we're in a really good spot," Tarr said. "We're becoming consistent with our offense, getting contributions from every part of the lineup any given day. Our defense speaks for itself and pitching is keeping us in games."

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