The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team will be in familiar surroundings when it opens play Friday in the NCAA regional round.
The Lady Mocs (42-12) will be the No. 2 seed in the Tuscaloosa Regional and will take on third-seeded Memphis in their opening game of the four-team regional Friday at 3:30 p.m. Nationally ranked Alabama will be the top seed and will open against No. 4 seed Jackson State.
This will be the first time in Lady Mocs softball history that the team will be the No. 2 seed in regional play.
UTC is in the Tuscaloosa regional for third time in four seasons, having played there in 2008 and 2009. In addition, the Lady Mocs played exhibition games this fall against the Crimson Tide (46-8).
"We feel sort of like we're going home," UTC coach Frank Reed said Sunday night at the team's selection show party at Taco Mac. "We're familiar with Tuscaloosa. This team has played very well, and we have put up some fantastic numbers, so we're excited."
The Lady Mocs earned a trip to the NCAA regional over the weekend by winning UTC's 11th Southern Conference tournament. In the tournament in Statesboro, Ga., UTC outscored its opponents 35-3 over four games, culminating in Saturday's 11-2 rout of College of Charleston in the championship game.
UTC outfielder Lyndsey Stiles said she and the other Lady Mocs seniors were hoping to get a chance to play somewhere different this year, but they still feel good about their chances in the regional.
"I think we were hoping to play somewhere other than Tuscaloosa," she said. "Not to not play Alabama but to play somewhere different.
"But we know the field. We've played there, and it's not anything new to us. I think that's an advantage for us, and I think that getting that No. 2 seed puts us in a good place. ... We know that we can hang with [Alabama], so watch out. We're ready."
Memphis (35-12) features three players who played high school softball in the Chattanooga area. Senior infielder Maddie McKinley played at Gordon Lee, and former GPS players Kamri Chester and Jessica Phillips also play for the Tigers, who earned an at-large bid to the tournament out of Conference USA.