USC softball back in postseason, looking to restore tradition

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - The South Carolina softball team is getting ready for the postseason for the first time since 2007.

South Carolina will face seventh-seeded Kentucky in the first round of the SEC Tournament Wednesday night after beating No. 2 Florida in the regular season finale this past weekend. As a result of that win, the Gamecocks put themselves in position to win a tiebreaker over Mississippi State by virtue of a series sweep in Starkville a week ago.

The Gamecocks finished the regular season with a 31-22 overall record and 8-16 in SEC play to secure the program's first winning season since 2007, and first postseason berth under third-year head coach Beverly Smith.

The team has a new stadium and a new approach after a long postseason drought, and Smith hopes a return to the tournament is another step in restoring a program rich in tradition, including several trips to the College World Series.

"We had our senior banquet the other night, and I think that's the greatest gift our seniors can leave the underclassmen is that the seniors are taking us there for the first time, and I hope this is something that our freshman will experience for four years," said Smith.

The Gamecocks are 15-15 all-time at the SEC Tournament, and won the tourney in 1997 and 2000. South Carolina and Kentucky have met two times in the tournament, with the Gamecocks winning both times.

The teams met earlier this season at Carolina Softball Stadium. The Wildcats won all three games in Columbia.

Wednesday's SEC Tournament first-round game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU. It is slated to start at 6:30pm.