DeLand, Fla. -- The Atlantic Sun Conference Champion Stetson University softball team learned late Sunday night that it will travel to Gainesville, Fla. to take on the UCF Knights in the opening game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament Friday at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium.
The Hatters (38-12) will be making their second all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their first since 2007.
"I am excited for the kids," Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. "I so happy that it is that close because we will have a lot of our fan base there. This should be a fun time. I have been to UF many times. It is a great facility, they take care of the facility in a very professional manner, and I am looking forward to it."
The Gainesville Regional will be hosted by the No. 5 national seed Florida Gators (45-11), who will play Florida A&M (24-27). The two winners will meet in a winner's bracket game Saturday while the two losers will play an elimination game. The winner of the double-elimination regional will advance to the NCAA Super Regionals against the winner of the Seattle Regional.
Stetson went a perfect 4-0 during the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship this past week. The Hatters defeated FGCU, Lipscomb, and Mercer twice, including a 1-0 walk-off win over the Bears in the title game.
UCF (41-16) earned an at-large selection out of the American Athletic Conference after winning the regular season title and finishing runner-up to Louisville in the conference tournament.
The Hatters and Knights played twice during the regular season, with each team winning on its opponent's home field. UCF defeated Stetson 1-0 in DeLand on April 9, and the Hatters shutout UCF 3-0 in Orlando on April 22. The two teams will be meeting in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
"We are certainly familiar with them," Griffin said. "They are a good ball team and are well coached. They are a friendly adversary, and I am looking forward to squaring off with them."
Florida earned an at-large bid out of the Southeastern Conference. The Gators are ranked fifth in the NFCA Softball Top 25 coaches poll.
Florida A&M claimed an automatic bid as the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Lady Rattlers will be making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance.