NCAAs: USF softball opens vs. UCF in Gainesville
USF softball is back in NCAA regionals for the first time in four years, with the Bulls sent to Gainesville, where they'll open with Central Florida at 3:30 p.m. Friday, with a likely rematch with Florida down the road.
The Bulls (45-11) didn't get to host a regional after dropping six of their final 11 Big East games, but USF is facing a Gators team they beat earlier this season on the same field. USF hasn't faced UCF since the 2008 NCAA regional (also in Gainesville) -- the Knights come in with an RPI of 41, well below USF at 19. The host Gators are 7th in the RPI, and Florida Gulf Coast is 85th. The double-elimination regional will continue through Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the winner of the UCLA regional in the Super Regional round.
USF went two-and-out in its last NCAA regional, losing to UCF and Georgia Tech in Gainesville in 2008. USF won the regional in Gainesville in 2006 with three straight wins, only to be swept by UCLA in the Super Regional that year.
Only one Big East team is hosting a regional this year -- Louisville, which has the No. 15 seed in the tournament. DePaul, Notre Dame and Syracuse also made it, putting five Big East teams among the 64-team field.