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The road to Oklahoma City will run through Columbia.

Missouri softball is the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament and is one of 16 NCAA regional hosts. This is the first time it will host a regional since 2016.

The Tigers finished 38-15 and were knocked out in the SEC Tournament semifinals against No. 4 Florida.

The Tigers host Illinois-Chicago in the first round, with Northern Iowa and Iowa State rounding out the Columbia Regional playing at Mizzou Softball Stadium. Missouri’s first game is against UIC at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

A super regional will also be hosted in Columbia if the Tigers win.

“This was one of our main goals we set at the beginning of the year,” catcher Hatti Moore said. “We really wanted to not only host a regional but also have the potential to host a super regional, so that was really an awesome feeling for us.”

Missouri played against Iowa State twice this season, splitting the series. The first of the two was a 9-8 win for the Cyclones, and the second was a 3-2 win for the Tigers in Columbia. A third game was canceled due to inclement weather.

“We gotta focus right now on UIC,” coach Larissa Anderson said. “We can’t look past UIC, I know they’re a very strong team … I think it’s great we played Iowa State before so there’s going to be some familiarity, but at the same time, they’ve already been in our house. They’re not going to be caught off guard with the facility or the atmosphere … We have to really respect that, especially the fact that they beat us before.”

Missouri announced Friday that capacity at Mizzou Softball Stadium would be increased to 50% for remaining spring sporting events.

“I can’t wait, I think capacity has got lifted at the right time,” redshirt senior Cayla Kessinger said. “I think Mizzou nation is ready. I think we’re ready. This feeling isn’t just for us, us getting the eight seed isn’t just for Mizzou softball. It’s for Mizzou as a whole.”

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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