Posted: Thursday, April 17th 2014 at 12:40pm
North Georgia softball prepping for PBC tourney opener
By staff reports
FLORENCE, S.C. -– With the final regular-season games of the 2014 season completed, the Peach Belt Conference has released the bracket for the tournament championship which begins this Friday in Florence, S.C. at Francis Marion. The 4th-ranked University of North Georgia softball is the top-seeded team in the eight-team event and opens play on Friday against 8th-seeded Georgia Regents at 11 a.m.
The Nighthawks were the tournament top seed from 2009-11, winning the event all three times. Ranked fourth in the nation and first in the Southeast region, UNG finished 20-2 in conference play this year, won the PBC regular-season championship and brings a 41-9 overall record to the championship following Wednesday's split with 3rd-ranked Alabama-Huntsville.
Francis Marion University will serve as the host as the tournament will be played for the first time on the FMU Softball Field, part of the new R. Gerald Griffin Athletic Complex.
UNG will face off against 8th-seeded Georgia Regents in the first game of the tournament Friday morning. The Jaguars return to the PBC event after missing the cut last season. GRU has won five of their final eight games. GRU appeared in the 2011 championship game where they fell to North Georgia, and lost their regular-season doubleheader to the Nighthawks by a combine three runs.
Armstrong will be the #2 seed in the PBC Tournament. The Pirates turned in another successful season and have been seeded first or second for four years in a row. Ranked #12 in the nation, Armstrong leads the PBC in runs scored, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
The Pirates will face the host team, 7th-seeded Francis Marion in the final game of the first day. The Patriots split a DH with the Pirates just last Saturday, beating Armstrong 3-2 in the opening game. FMU was 6-4 in conference games at home this season and lead the PBC in shutouts.
USC Aiken will be the #3 seed in the PBC Tournament. The Pacers have their highest seed since 2009 when they reached the championship game and set a school record with 15 conference wins this season. The Pacers have won nine of 11 heading into the PBC Tournament.
USCA will face sixth-seeded Columbus State in the quarterfinals. The Cougars are the two-time defending tournament champions and were not seeded higher than fourth for either one. CSU set a new PBC record with 70 team home runs this year, more than any other team in NCAA Division II.
Georgia College swept Lander on the final day of the regular season to rise up and take the #4 seed for the tournament. The Bobcats reached the championship game of the 2013 event in St. Augustine, their first appearance in the final since winning in 2008. GC has won eight of 11 games heading into Florence.
Flagler lost the tiebreaker to GC after being swept by the Bobcats during the regular season. The Saints will be the #5 seed in Florence after hosting last year. Flagler is looking for their first-ever win at the PBC Tournament and won six of their last seven games heading in.
The winner of the 2014 PBC Tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The championship game will be held along with the semifinals on Saturday.
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