May 11, 2003
ATLANTA – For the second consecutive season and just the second time in school history, the Georgia Tech softball team (36-23) learned Sunday it earned a spot in the NCAA Softball Championship. The fifth-seeded Jackets head to the Tuscaloosa, Ala., Regional for a first-round match-up with No. 4 seed Illinois (38-15-1) Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.
Joining the Jackets and Illini in the regional field are top-seed and Southeastern Conference champion Alabama (45-19), second-seeded Stanford (40-24), No. 3 seed Massachusetts (36-13), No. 6 seed Southern Illinois (36-12), No. 7 seed Chattanooga (35-28) and eighth-seeded Southern University (19-10), The winner of the double-elimination regional tournament advances to the 2003 Women’s College World Series, May 22-26 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Jackets and Illinois met earlier this season, with the Illini winning 3-2 in eight innings at the Cox Communications Classic in Gainesville, Fla. Tech also split doubleheaders in 2003 with potential opponents Alabama and Chattanooga, teams that the Jackets defeated in last season’s regional tournament in Tallahassee, Fla. Also a No. 5 seed a year ago, Tech won its first three games of the 2002 regional and fell one game short of a trip to the WCWS.
Tech is one of 38 at-large selections to the field, which features 64 teams at eight regional sites for the first time. Florida State and North Carolina join the Jackets in the field to give the Atlantic Coast Conference three selections.
The Jackets played arguably one of the nation’s toughest schedules this season, having already faced 15 teams selected for the postseason Sunday. Tech has played a total of 25 games against squads included in the tournament field, posting a 10-15 record in these games. Fifteen of the Jackets 23 losses this season came versus NCAA Championship opponents.
NCAA Region Eight - Tuscaloosa, Ala.Opening Round Schedule - Thursday, May 15 (all times Eastern)No. 5 Georgia Tech vs. No. 4 Illinois - 10:30 a.m.No. 8 Southern vs. No. 1 Alabama - 1 p.m.No. 6 Southern Illinois vs. No. 3 Massachusetts - 3:30 p.m.No. 7 Chattanooga vs. No. 2 Stanford - 6 p.m.