FLORENCE, S.C. – The NCAA announced its tournament field for the 2005 Division II women’s softball national championships and for the second consecutive year Francis Marion University was not among the chosen 48 squads.
The South Atlantic Regional will include Kennesaw State University (48-10), University of North Florida (39-10), Columbus State University (33-12), Carson-Newman College (39-9), USC Upstate (43-13), and Coker College (31-15). The double-elimination tournament will take place May 12-15.
Francis Marion was overlooked despite its 36-14 record and the fact that the Patriots won both their meetings with USCS during the 2005 season, the squad that most likely edged FMU for the final invitation. The Patriots and USC Upstate were two of the three teams tied for fifth place in the Peach Belt Conference regular-season standings at 10-10. Six of the Patriots’ 10 losses were by one run.
FMU also swept two games from Coker, and split two games with CSU, while going a combined 1-5 against Kennesaw State and North Florida. KSU (Peach Belt), Carson-Newman (South Atlantic Conference), Coker (CVAC) all received automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournament titles.
After opening the 2005 campaign 27-5, FMU was 9-9 over its final 18 games.
The Patriots’ 36 wins are the fourth-most in the program’s history. FMU has won at least 30 games each of the past six seasons, and eight of the last nine campaigns.
“Yes, we are disappointed,” said FMU first-year head coach Stacey Johnson, “but I was very satisfied with the squad’s overall season. We had a couple of rainouts and cancellations that cost us several possible wins, and several key injuries that hurt our lineup. We lose only two seniors and will build on this year’s effort for next spring.”
Last year, USC Upstate (then USC Spartanburg) was also the likely spoiler for Francis Marion. USCS was chosen despite the fact that 37-17 FMU took two of three games from USCS during the season, all on the road, finished ahead of the Rifles (third / fourth) in the PBC Tournament and during the PBC regular season (tied for fourth / sixth).
This is the third consecutive year the Peach Belt has sent four teams, its highest possible total, to the NCAAs.