Florida has hosted an NCAA Regional during every year under head coach Tim Walton.
This year’s four-team field will include USF, Georgia Southern and Hampton. USF and Georgia Southern will open the Regional at 3:30 p.m. on Friday while the Gators take on Hampton at 6 p.m. that night. The double-elimination format will conclude on Sunday.
The winner of the Gainesville Regional will play the winner of the Louisville Regional. The Cardinals are the No. 15 overall and also host UCLA, UAB and IPFW in their Regional.
Florida clinched four straight berth in the Women’s College World Series from 2008-11, adding appearances in the championship series in 2009 and 2011.
There’s familiarity for the Gators within their own Regional. USF was in the Gainesville Regional last season and pulled the upset to eventually advance to its first Women’s College World Series. This season, the Gators won both games against the Bulls, a 3-1 win in Tampa and a 9-1 win in Gainesville.
The Bulls are led by ace Sara Nevins, who gave the Gators fits last postseason. Nevins is 25-7 with a 0.94 ERA, recording 255 strikeouts in 201 innings.
The SEC has 13 softball programs -- with Vanderbilt not having one -- and 11 of them made the tournament field, including five of the top-10 overall seeds. Alabama won the first softball national championship for the SEC last season.