CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Charleston Southern Buccaneers are Knoxville-bound for next weekend's NCAA Regional round as CSU heads to their first-ever NCAA postseason bid, taking on No. 10 overall seed Tennessee, as well as Lipscomb and Virginia Tech, with action running at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium from May 16-18.
The NCAA Regional tournament puts the Buccaneers in a double-elimination bracket featuring the 2013 Women's College World Series runner-up in the Volunteers, as well as two at-large teams in Virginia Tech and Lipscomb who earned their way into the tournament field based on strong 2014 regular seasons.
Charleston Southern make their first NCAA postseason appearance due to their Championship run through the 2014 Big South Conference Championships as the Buccaneers defeated Longwood (twice) and Presbyterian in making their way to Sunday afternoon's championship game against Coastal Carolina.
"Again, we're so proud of these kids and what they've accomplished all week long," CSU head coach Shane Winkler commented on the Buccaneers first postseason trip. "We went into it knowing we had the ability to win a championship and visualized it in August and it's nice to finally get to the tournament. We've talked about Selection Sunday over and over and over, and we expected to be here. It's just an honor to be going to one of the nicest stadiums in the country, playing against one of the top teams in the country in Tennessee. It's one of the toughest regions in the country. All three teams are very talented teams and they are there for a reason. They all earned their way there, not by one weekend, but by having great seasons and it's going to be a great weekend of softball."
Against the Chanticleers this afternoon, a strong pitching performance by tournament MVP Cheyenne Gandara, propelled the Buccaneers past No. 1 seed and tournament host Coastal Carolina for the Bucs' second Big South tournament championship in program history.
CSU will take on a familiar foe on Friday's opening round as the Buccaneers hosted Tennessee last season at the CSU Softball Field. The Volunteers took both games against the Bucs over the tournament weekend, with CSU falling 8-1 in the opener and 10-3 on the tournament's final day.
The University of Oregon was named the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship today when the NCAA Division I Softball Committee announced the 64-team field. The Ducks, champions of the Pacific-12 Conference, are 49-7-1 and will play Utah Valley, an automatic qualifier from the Western Athletic Conference.
Thirty-two conferences were awarded an automatic qualification, while the remaining 32 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and will play at campus sites this weekend.
Team pairings were determined by geographic proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not paired during regional competition.
The Southeastern Conference led all leagues with 11 teams selected to the championship tournament. The Big Ten and Pacific-12 Conferences each placed five teams in the championship tournament, respectively. Six teams are making their first appearance in the tournament: Bryant University, Charleston Southern University, Dartmouth University, Utah Valley University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Texas Southern University
Checking out the Tennessee Regional Field
Tennessee enters the weekend with a 42-10 overall record, going 17-8 overall in Southeastern Conference play on the season. The Volunteers are led by senior ace Ellen Renfroe as the fire-balling right-hander led Tennessee with a 26-6 overall record and 2.07 ERA on the season with 221 strikeouts in 206 innings pitched.
The other game in the Knoxville-based regional pits Virginia Tech against Lipscomb.
Virginia Tech makes the field as an at-large bid after going 35-21 overall, 19-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Pitchers Maggie Tyler and Kelly Heinz headline the Virginia Tech roster with Heinz leading the way with a 20-13 overall record and 3.49 ERA, while Tyler posts a 15-8 overall record and a 174:36 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Lipscomb, an at-large bid from the Atlantic Sun Conference, earned the final spot in the Knoxville regional after finishing 39-13 overall in the season, 18-8 in A-Sun action. Pitching again leads the way for the Bison with Ashley Anderson posting a 1.53 ERA and a 19-6 overall record in 179 innings pitched. The senior left-hander has a 121:44 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 21 complete games on the year.
Super Regionals and Beyond
The 16 teams advancing from the Regional rounds continue in the 2014 NCAA Super Regionals which will be held from May 22-25, while the Women's College World Series will be held at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field in Oklahoma City, Okla., from May 29-June 4.