VIDEO: Michael Graves Interview
VIDEO: Katie Pritchett Interview
INDIANAPOLIS – For the second straight year and 14th time overall, Carson-Newman softball is bound for NCAA regional play.
The Eagles had locked in an automatic bid by winning the South Atlantic Conference tournament championship April 28. The only drama for the Eagles Monday morning during the NCAA's selection show was what seed Carson-Newman would be and to what sub-regional would the Eagles head.
Carson-Newman heads into the tournament as the six seed. The Eagles will face off with Georgia College in Hickory, N.C. at Lenoir-Rhyne's Bears Field Thursday at 2 p.m., the NCAA announcement Monday morning.
"I think that we've peaked at the right time," head softball coach Michael Graves said. "We played well down the stretch, then our strength of schedule helped us out too. We'll have to be on our A-game for the tournament."
Carson-Newman owns a win over every team that is in its sub-regional with the exception of Georgia College. The Eagles and Bobcats tried to play twice this year, but both times the doubleheaders were rained out.
Second-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne and seventh-seeded Young Harris comprise the other half of the sub-regional in Hickory.
North Georgia is the host of the other Southeast Regional site. The top-seeded Nighthawks open up play against King. South Atlantic Conference foes Coker and Queens clash in the other game on that side of the bracket.
All told, Carson-Newman has a win over every team in the field with the exception of NGU and Georgia College. C-N didn't play either team.
This marks Carson-Newman's third trip to Hickory for NCAA regional play. Carson-Newman has been to the Tar Heel State three other times for NCAA regional play, including 2009 when Carson-Newman rolled through the Hickory regional unbeaten for its lone appearance in a Super Regional in program history.
Carson-Newman's senior class of Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) and Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) makes an NCAA tournament for a third time. This is the first senior class to make back-to-back NCAA tournaments and three out of four in their careers since 2011.