FLORENCE, SC – The Francis Marion University softball program learned on Monday (May 9) that it has earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA Division II national championships.

Francis Marion (33-20) will travel to Anderson, S.C., for one of two Southeast Subregionals.  The four-team double-elimination tournament will be played Thursday through Saturday (May 12-14) at Anderson University’s AU Softball Complex.

The eighth-seeded Patriots will play top-seeded and 16th-ranked Anderson (38-8) on Thursday at noon.  The other first-round game will fourth-seeded King University (41-15) playing fifth-seeded Lincoln Memorial University (35-18) at 2:30 p.m.

The winners from Thursday’s contests will play at noon on Friday, while the losers will play at 2:30 p.m.  A second elimination game will follow at 5 p.m.  The championship game is set for Saturday at noon.

The 64-team NCAA Tournament field, which includes 23 automatic qualifiers and 41 at-large selections, was announced Monday morning.  Four teams will participate at each of 16 sub-regional sites in double-elimination tournaments, with all competition taking place May 12-14.  The tournament at Anderson is one of two host sites in the Southeast Region, as second-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne University will host four teams as well.

The winner of each sub-regional will advance to the NCAA II Super Regional, May 19-20 at on-campus sites.  The Super Regional champion will advance to the NCAA Division II College World Series, May 26-31 at the Assembly Athletic Complex on the campus of Metropolitan State University of Denver (Colo.).

The Patriots reached the championship game of the Conference Carolinas Tournament in FMU’s first year as a conference member. Anderson was the regular-season champion of the South Atlantic Conference.

FMU leads the all-time series with the Trojans 8-2, but the two programs have not met since the opening weekend of the 2006 season when the Patriots swept a twinbill (6-0 and 7-0) in Florence.

This is Francis Marion’s third-ever bid to the NCAA national tournament.  FMU was part of the Southeast Regional in 2010 and advanced to the Division II World Series in 2008.  It will also be the program’s eighth national tournament invitation all-time, including AIAW and NAIA affiliation.

West Texas A&M University is the defending national champion.

Courtesy – Francis Marion Athletics