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Auburn softball in Tallahassee Regional: Scouting report, prediction for NCAA Tournament

For the third time in the last seven years, Auburn softball has been sent to the Tallahassee Regional.

The Tigers will begin their run in the NCAA Tournament with a game against UCF on Friday (1 p.m. CT, ESPNU). The other two teams in the regional are Chattanooga and Florida State, the latter of which is hosting and was tabbed by the selection committee as the No. 15 overall seed in the country.

With senior pitcher Maddie Penta in the circle, anything is possible for the Tigers. Penta currently has an earned-run average of 1.77, a mark that ranks sixth in the SEC amongst pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings in 2024. She's appeared in 31 games this season, striking out 230 batters while walking 58.

Here's what to know about each of Auburn's foes in Tallahassee, as well as a prediction for how we see the regional ultimately playing out:

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Chattanooga

The Mocs (42-14) are rolling into the NCAA Tournament, winners of 12 of their last 13 games and champions of the Southern Conference Tournament. The only team that's beaten Chattanooga since April 23 is UNC Greensboro in the conference tournament, and the Mocs followed that loss up by beating the Spartans twice in a row to secure the SoCon title.

Fifth-year senior Kaili Phillips is dangerous at the plate, as she has the team's second-best batting averaging at .357 and has launched 15 home runs in 2024. She's one of three players on the roster with at least 40 RBIs, along with Kendall Forsythe and Olivia Lipari.

Florida State

There's a reason the Seminoles once again got to host this season. Florida State (43-14) couldn't get the job done against Duke in the ACC Tournament, but coach Lonni Alameda's squad still won 19 of their 24 conference games and boasted a 26-6 record at home.

Freshman infielder Jaysoni Beachum's batting average of .436 ranks No. 11 nationally. She also leads the Seminoles in home runs (15), RBIs (64) and walks (31).

Central Florida

Perhaps not as hot as Chattanooga or Florida State, UCF is 3-8 over its last 11 games. That doesn't mean the Knights (30-23) are going to be pushovers, though. UCF doesn't have a ranked win in 2024, but the Knights held then-No. 5 Tennessee to three runs on Feb. 24 and pushed then-No. 22 South Carolina before falling 4-2 on March 1.

UCF's best pitcher is Sarah Willis, who has played in 42 games this season and has collected a 2.44 ERA over more than 120 innings pitched.

Tallahassee Regional: Prediction for NCAA Tournament

Auburn tops UCF in the early game Friday and FSU handles business against Chattanooga in the late game, setting up a couple of matchups between the Tigers and Seminoles as well as the Knights and Mocs on Saturday. Chattanooga knocks out UCF and FSU gives Auburn a tough loss.

The Tigers rebound in Game 5 with a win over Chattanooga to become one of the last two teams standing. Auburn may steal one from FSU, but winning two in a row against the Seminoles may be too difficult.

Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at rsilva@gannett.com or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @rich_silva18.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn softball: Predictions for Tigers in Tallahassee Regional