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Southeastern Conference Softball

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Southeastern Conference Softball

In only its seventh year of existence, SEC softball has made a name for itself across the nation. The Southeastern Conference qualified six teams for the 2003 NCAA Tournament – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Alabama was the lone SEC team to receive a No.1 seed, while the Crimson Tide, along with Florida, hosted regionals. It was only the second time that two SEC schools have hosted regionals. Alabama was also the only team to represent the SEC at the Women’s College World Series. It was their second WCWS appearance, making them the only SEC team with multiple WCWS appearances since softball became a conference sport. The six teams from the SEC were second only to the PAC-10 for the most teams from one conference to make the 2003 NCAA Tournament. In 2001 the SEC qualified four teams for the NCAA Tournament. LSU, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida all made yet another appearance in the tourney, while Mississippi State barely missed the field, despite being one of only four teams with a winning record in league play. LSU and Alabama both secured No. 1 seeds and both hosted a regional championship, marking the first time the SEC has had two member schools achieve such an honor. Trailing only the Pac-10, the SEC qualified a then-record number six teams for the 2000 NCAA Softball Tournament. LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Alabama, Florida and SEC Tournament Champion South Carolina all made the field of 48. The sport came under the auspices of the Southeastern Conference in the 1996-97 season. Since that time, eight different conference teams have made appearances in the NCAA Championship, including three Women’s College World Series berths – one by South Carolina in the inaugural season, Alabama in 2000 and LSU in 2001. LSU reached the semifinals in 2001 and finished the season ranked third nationally. In 1999, four teams earned bids to postseason, the second most by any conference. Seven teams (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee) have made Top 25 appearances and three teams have climbed into the Top 10 (Alabama, Georgia and LSU) of the NFCA/USA Today Poll. At least one SEC team has been ranked in the poll each week since the inception of SEC Softball. In 1999 alone, SEC teams made 29 appearances in the poll. South Carolina is the flagship team of the league with a rich history in softball dating back 28 seasons. The Lady Gamecocks have made 11 NCAA Regional and three Women’s College World Series appearances. Mississippi State played softball for five seasons during the 1980’s before resuming the sport when it was added to the SEC. Tennessee added softball in 1995-96, one year before its inception in the SEC. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Ole Miss began softball programs in 1996-97 to give the league 11 representatives (Vanderbilt does not sponsor softball). The 1999 season was the first in which the conference was eligible for an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. In its first six seasons, the SEC has watched its newest sport gain in competitiveness and popularity. Two different teams have won the SEC regular season title as well as the tournament title. South Carolina has won both once and LSU has won both three times. • 28 NCAA Regional Appearances. • Four Women’s College World Series Appearances. • 52 NCAA Regional Wins. • Eight different SEC teams have played in the NCAA Softball Championships. • SEC Teams have been ranked in every NFCA/USA Today poll since the inception of SEC softball. • SEC teams have made 75 Top 10 appearances in the NFCA/USA Today poll. • SEC Teams have won 339 games over Top 25 opponents in the past five years. • The SEC has made 28 appearances on FOX Sports Net South, including the last three SEC Tournament Championship Games.



Sports Category : Softball