CLEMSON, S.C. — Once the host on ESPN’s Softball Selection Show named all the participants for the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Regional, Alia Logoleo breathed a sigh of relief.
Tuscaloosa was where Logoleo and her Clemson teammates were at last year when the Tigers’ softball program made their debut appearance in the NCAA Softball Tournament. They did not want to make a return trip to Alabama.
And they do not have to.
In fact, they do not have to go anywhere. They are hosting a regional instead.
Clemson was named one of the 16 regional sites by the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, a first for a program that is in its third year and just its second full season.
“We were so blown away to see our name pop up, especially the number that is in front of it,” Logoleo said after the selection show.
The number beside Clemson’s name is 10, as the Tigers are the No. 10 overall seed in the field and is paired up with the Oklahoma State Regional. The Cowboys are the No. 7 overall seed.
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The Tigers (39-15) will play No. 4 UNC-Wilmington (32-13) at noon on Friday. Auburn (39-15) is the No. 2 seed in the Clemson Regional and will play No. 3 seed Louisiana (45-11) later that afternoon.
After advancing to the ACC Championship Game for a second straight year, the Tigers felt good about their chances of hosting a regional. Heading into the conference tournament, the thought was either Clemson or Notre Dame was going to be one of the ACC’s four host sites.
It helped the that the Tigers knocked off the Irish for a third time this season in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. It also helped they beat No. 2 Virginia Tech in the semifinals.
When Cammy Pereira saw Notre Dame’s name come up as the No. 2 seed in the Northwestern Regional, she felt really good about their chances of hosting.
“It was just really exciting to see their name go before us,” she said. “Last year, I think we were really caught off guard, I would say, seeing our name so early. So, to see another ACC another team a little bit earlier than us was definitely reassuring.”
As mentioned, Clemson is one of four ACC teams hosting a regional this year, a different story from last year where only Florida State got the opportunity to host.
Virginia Tech and Florida State, who beat the Tigers in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday, are the No. 2 and No. 3 overall seeds in the tournament, while Duke is the No. 12 seed. In all, the ACC has six teams in the field. Georgia Tech joins Notre Dame as league teams that will play on the road this weekend.
“This is really an exciting time for our program,” Clemson head coach John Rittman said. “We are three years inexistence and have an opportunity to host a regional. I am just so proud of our team, our coaching staff, our support staff.
“It is a huge honor to host a regional. To be one of 16 teams in the country and to be able to showcase our wonderful facility, our great fans and just what we built here.”