For the first time since a College World Series appearance in 2008, Virginia Tech softball is headed back to the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies will be part of the Knoxville regional and play UAB in the first round on Friday at 3:30pm. Host Tennessee, ranked 7th nationally, and Miami University (OH) make up the other half of the double-elimination regional.
Tech (40-19, 12-8 ACC) is coming off an impressive run to the ACC Championship, where they knocked off Maryland and top seed North Carolina before falling to Georgia Tech in the Championship game. The Hokies were one of five ACC teams selected on Sunday, joining Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, and Maryland.
This season has been tremendous for the Hokies, who were picked 6th in the conference before the season but exceeded all expectations, finishing tied for third with Georgia Tech. Tech reached 40 wins for the seventh time in the program's 17-year history and this will be the Hokies' fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Interestingly enough, for the fourth time in those five trips, the Hokies will start their journey in Knoxville. Tech's magical run to the College World Series behind Angela Tincher in 2008 started in Knoxville.
The Hokies feature a ridiculously young squad, regularly starting at least four freshman. In fact, VT features just two seniors, neither of which started in the ACC Championship. Tech is led on offense by first-team All-ACC performer Courtney Liddle. The junior from Haymarket made the first team for the second straight year after leading the squad with a .313 batting average. She also smacked eight homers and drove in 34 runs. Freshman Lauren Gaskill was named to the all-conference second team and leads Tech with 14 doubles on the year In the circle, junior Jasmin Harrell finished the regular season with a 29-14 record and a fine 1.90 ERA.
Meanwhile, UAB made the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year, earning an at-large bid out of Conference USA. The Blazers are 37-20 on the season and fell in the conference semifinals to Marshall. UAB features a potent offense with five starters hitting over .300 on the season. They also have three pitchers to choose from, led by Amber Torres and her 1.25 ERA.