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South Carolina softball locks in a top seed for SEC tournament

The South Carolina softball team has a bye in the SEC tournament for the first time in the eight-year Beverly Smith era.

Smith's Gamecocks finished the regular season 43-13 overall and 15-9 in the league, earning themselves the No. 3 seed in the tournament, which begins Wednesday in Columbia, Missouri. USC will face the winner of Texas A&M-Mississippi State in Thursday's quarterfinal round. First pitch is scheduled for noon and will be televised on the SEC Network.

Carolina's previous best seeding under Smith was No. 8 in 2014. The Gamecocks are also in position to be a No. 1 seed and host an NCAA regional for the first time since 2002.

USC split a doubleheader at Kentucky on Sunday, while the Wildcats took the wekend series.

"I’m proud of this group," USC coach Beverly Smith said. "Getting a first round bye in the SEC Tournament was a goal for this group from the beginning of the year. They earned their right to it. It wasn’t easy. We played a tough Kentucky team this weekend and I’m glad they could secure the third-place finish."

SEC tournament seeds

1. Florida (20-4)

2. Georgia (16-8)

3. South Carolina (15-9)

4. Tennessee (14-10)

5. LSU (13-10)

6. Texas A&M (13-11)

7. Arkansas (12-12)

8. Alabama (12-12)

9. Auburn (11-12)

10. Kentucky (8-15)

11. Mississippi State (7-17)

12. Ole Miss (7-17)


Wednesday's first round

Game 1: No. 6 seed Texas A&M vs. No. 11 seed Mississippi State noon, SEC Network

G2: No. 7 seed Arkansas vs. No. 10 seed Kentucky, 2:30 p.m., SEC Network

G3: No. 5 seed LSU vs. No. 12 seed Ole Miss, 5 p.m., SEC Network

G4: No. 8 seed Alabama vs. No. 9 seed Auburn, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Thursday's quarterfinals

G5: No. 3 South Carolina vs. winner of Game 1, noon, SEC Network

G6: No. 2 seed Georgia vs. winner of Game 2, 2:30 p.m., SEC Network

G7: No. 4 seed Tennessee vs. winner of Game 3, 5 p.m., SEC Network

G8: No. 1 seed Florida vs. winner of Game 4, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Friday's semifinals

G9: Winner Game 5 vs. winner Game 6, 3 p.m., ESPNU

G10: Winner Game 7 vs. winner Game 8, 5:30 p.m., ESPNU

Saturday's championship

Winner Game 9 vs. winner Game 10, 8 p.m., ESPN2