The South Carolina softball team is headed to the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.
The Gamecocks (37-20) will travel to the Tallahassee, Fla,. regional for the second consecutive season. Florida State (45-12), the tournament's No. 9 national seed, will play Dartmouth (25-16) in a first-round game, while USC will match up against Central Florida (48-7) in the other half of the four-team bracket. Both games will be played Friday.
South Carolina played UCF in the 2015 home opener at Carolina Softball Stadium, a 4-1 loss. The Gamecocks also played FSU in an early-season tournament in California, a 4-3 loss in 10 innings.
“We were excited to hear our name called, and we’re looking forward to going to Tallahassee to compete,” USC coach Beverly Smith. “It certainly looks like a regional with tough pitching like it was last year. From a preparation standpoint, we’re excited because we’ve seen UCF and Florida State already this season.”
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USC earned its 18th bid to the tournament in school history. The Gamecocks, who have a 32-31 record in NCAA tournament play, made it to the Women's College World Series in 1983, 1989 and 1997.
Led by All-SEC junior outfielder Alaynie Page (.446, 15 HR, 45 RBIs) and sophomore pitcher Nickie Blue (20-7, 1.74 ERA), the Gamecocks set a school record with 60 home runs this season under Smith, who's in her fifth season at the helm.