Breaking down Southern Conference softball

June 28, 2014 

Breaking down Southern Conference softball

Scouting report

It’s Chattanooga and the rest, more so now.

The Southern Conference has lost three of its top four programs in the past two years: College of Charleston, Elon and Georgia Southern.

Chattanooga has pretty much owned things, with 13 regular-season titles and 11 tournament championships since the sport started in 1994. The Mocs are a sizzling 54-19 in conference tournament play.

After that, none of the returning programs is above .500 overall or in conference play all-time. Furman is the only other remaining conference program to it to make the NCAA tournament.

Mercer enters as an immediate contender to Chattanooga, hardly losing anybody from 2014’s 37-19 team that barely missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Bears’ RPI was better than everybody in the Southern Conference last season.

The arms race in the conference for softball is picking up. Chattanooga has hosted 10 conference tournaments for a reason: Frost Stadium is better than plenty of Division I -- and some conference -- baseball facilities.

Samford has a new facility and Furman is spending more than $600,000 on improvements. UNC-Greensboro spent $3 million on its new complex in 2006.

Co-newcomer East Tennessee State comes in with a quality field that’s only five years old, but the Bucs haven’t been above .500 in conference play since 2007 and overall since 2003, its third-to-last season in the Southern before going to the A-Sun.

So Mercer adds a competitive facility to the conference (after upgrades in 2006) and a team with plenty of momentum, but it appears some investment is being made, and the race should begin tightening up.

A look at the programs Mercer and East Tennessee State will join in the Southern Conference on Tuesday:

Chattanooga

Stadium/capacity: Frost Stadium/3,000

Conference championships: 13

Conference tournament championships: 11

NCAA appearances: 9 (6-18, last in 2014)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

34-21 13-7

26-28 10-11

39-16 20-2

44-14 20-3

39-17 19-5

30-24 15-5

41-22 13-5

35-31 16-5

38-35 11-10

46-21 15-4

Furman

Stadium/capacity: Pepsi Stadium/300

Conference championships: 2

Conference tournament championships: 2

NCAA appearances: 1 (0-2, last in 2007)

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

29-26 12-8

27-27 10-11

17-35 6-18

18-35 9-15

24-23 12-11

22-29 11-12

21-33 8-13

21-36 7-13

29-37 7-14

15-47 3-18

Samford

Stadium/capacity: Samford Softball Field/200

Conference championships: 0

Conference tournament championships: 0

NCAA appearances: 0

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

38-18 11-9

17-35 6-15

14-42 6-18

14-40 9-15

19-31 10-14

21-30 10-14

25-29 14-13 *

32-23 15-11 *

20-38 10-16 *

27-26 17-9 *

* in Ohio Valley Conference

UNC Greensboro

Stadium/capacity: UNCG Softball Stadium/500

Conference championships: 0

Conference tournament championships: 0

NCAA appearances: 0

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

30-27 10-11

38-19 12-11

22-34 10-13

26-32 10-14

21-30 12-11

26-33 9-12

23-33 7-11

29-37 7-14

20-42 4-17

20-40 7-14

Western Carolina

Stadium/capacity: Catamount Softball Complex/250

Conference championships: 1

Conference tournament championships: 0

NCAA appearances: 0

Past 10 seasons:

Overall Conf.

19-34 8-13

20-36 9-15

24-34 9-15

18-35 3-21

10-43 2-21

12-35 7-14

19-36 7-14

28-34 9-11

41-20 16-4 (reinstated, 2006)

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