The Furman Lady Paladins lead a group of five teams from the Palmetto State that will be competing in NCAA Regional play.
Furman, ranked 7th or 8th in most college polls, is the second seed in the Tallahassee Region. Alabama, 2nd or 3rd ranked in the country, is the top seed in the same region.
“It is quite an honor to be a number two seed at a regional,” said Furman head coach Jeff Hull. “We are excited about going to Tallahassee. We have had success there before, and it’s nice that it is close to home,” he said.
While the region is filled with outstanding teams the Furman record this year makes the Lady Paladins one of the favorites to advance to the national finals as they did last year.
“This regional has a strong field, but we have played strong fields all year long in preparation for the postseason. Hopefully, we can put together a solid regional performance to get through to nationals,” said Hull.
Furman enters the tournament as the Southern Conference champions and senior Reona Hirai is the SoCon individual medalist.
South Carolina is the next highest ranked team from the Palmetto State to earn a spot in regional play. The Gamecocks are the third seed in the West region and enter the tournament ranked 8th or 9th in the country.
The Gamecocks finished on top of the SEC Tournament at the end of stroke play, but lost out in the match play finals. Ainhoa Olarra leads USC after being the medlist in the SEC championship.
The regional will be played in San Francisco. The top seed in the region is the top seed in the tournament. UCLA is number one in the region with a very strong Stanford team seeded second.
Clemson is the third team from South Carolina to be seeded in the field. The Tigers will be in the Tallahassee Regional with Furman. Clemson is seeded eighth.
“We feel good about the way we ended the season (program best third place at ACC Tournament) and I think we are in a good place,” said Clemson coach Kelley Hester. ” Last year’s experience of getting through the regional should help also,” she said.
The Tigers are finishing up exams and then will drive to Talahassee to hopefully earn the right to advance to the NCAA finals as they did last year.
“We are excited to get the bid, and excited to go to the Tallahassee Regional,” said Hester, the only coach in NCAA history to take four different programs to the NCAA National Tournament and a top 20 final ranking.”I think that is an advantage as oppose to flying across the country,” she added.
This will be the fourth trip to the NCAA playoffs in the five year history of the program. All the Tigers who will play in the regional have NCAA experience from last year. Clemson advanced from the Athens Regional and finished 20th in the NCAA finals.
Two other teams from South Carolina will also be in Tallahassee. The College of Charleston won their third straight Colonial Athletic Conference championship.
Greenville golfer Victoria Huskey finished up as the individual runner-up just one shot behind the medalist.
The fourth team from the state going to Florida is Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers won the Sun Belt Conference championship by 34 strokes over Troy to earn their trip to the NCAA Regional.
The top-six teams from each of the four regionals advance to the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The top eight from the field will then compete for the national title in a match play final.