Spartanburg, S.C. – The USC Upstate softball team will make its fifth consecutive appearance at the NCAA Tournament this weekend as it opens the Knoxville Regional against the Ohio State Buckeyes Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. from Tennessee's Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The contest between Upstate and Ohio State is being streamed on WatchESPN and the ESPN app with Lisa Byingham and Jennie Ritter serving as the commentators.
Upstate will kick off the Knoxville Regional against the Buckeyes with host Tennessee, the number eight national seed, taking on Longwood at 7 p.m. The Spartans punched their ticket to the postseason by winning both the ASUN Regular Season and Tournament championships. Upstate won its third straight ASUN Softball Championship, and fourth in the last five seasons, after defeating Florida Gulf Coast 8-0 in five innings in the championship game last Saturday. Ohio State is an at-large selection after building a 35-16 overall record and 15-8 mark in Big Ten play.
Tennessee is the No. 8 national seed and enters with a 44-10 record while going 16-7 in the SEC. Longwood owns a 28-27 overall record and 13-8 Big South record, and earned its tourney spot after winning the Big South Tournament Championship title.
The Spartans have advanced to five NCAA Tournaments since moving to Division I for the 2008 season. The Knoxville Regional is the first for Upstate outside the state of Alabama after participating in both the Tuscaloosa (2013, 2014, 2015) and Auburn (2016) Regionals. The Spartans have gone 1-2 in each of the four previous regionals, picking up a win over Jacksonville State (2013), No. 21 South Alabama (2014), Fairfield (2015) and Oregon State (2016).
In the latest NCAA RPI ranking released earlier this week, Upstate is the highest-ranked ASUN team at No. 40. The Spartans are ranked tied for 25th with Ohio State in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll and are receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Upstate leads the all-time series over Ohio State 2-0 after defeating the Buckeyes 2-0 last season in Spartanburg. The Spartans are tied 1-1 with Longwood, and will be facing Tennessee for the first time in program history.
Fans can also follow this weekend's regional at www.upstatespartans.com via live stats. Updates will be posted on the Upstate softball Twitter page (@UpstateSoftball).