SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The ETSU Buccaneers (29-24, 10-7 SoCon) will take on the seventh-seeded Auburn Tigers (46-10, 17-7 SEC) in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament after claiming the SoCon championship on Saturday and receiving the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bucs will challenge Auburn on Friday, May 19 with the first pitched scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (ET) and will air on ESPNU from Jane B. Moore Field. The four-team regional features a double elimination format that also includes Notre Dame (32-22, 13-11) and California (30-22, 6-17 Pac-12).
ETSU and Auburn have faced each other once in program history with the Tigers defeating the Bucs, 11-3, back on Feb. 8, 2013. The Bucs have also faced Notre Dame once as the Fighting Irish won 6-1 back on March 6, 2010. ETSU and Cal have never met.
Three games will be played on Saturday. The two winning teams will play at 5 p.m. ET, while the two losing teams play an elimination game at 2:30 p.m. The winner from the elimination game will play the loser from the winners bracket at 7:30 p.m. Sunday's game(s) will be played at 2:30 p.m., while the if necessary game will be played at 5 p.m.
Thirty-two conferences were awarded an automatic qualification, while the remaining 32 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and will play at campus sites beginning this Thursday.
Team pairings were determined by geographic proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not paired during regional competition.
The Southeastern Conference led all leagues with 13 teams selected to the championship tournament. The Pac-12 Conference placed eight teams in the championship tournament, respectively. Along with ETSU, the University of Montana and Saint Francis University (Pennsylvania) will make their first-ever NCAA Touranement appearance.
Only 12 schools have been crowned the NCAA Division I softball champion since the tournament started in 1982, and all 12 will compete in this year's bracket.