The University of South Carolina built for this. Now they’ll come |

The University of South Carolina gets to host an NCAA Regional this season, something it hasn’t done since 2007. Since then, they’ve built a beautiful new stadium. In the middle of the oncoming storm is Director of Operations, Event Management and Sport Camps, Megan Kennington.

The tweet was in some ways more euphemistic than a true statement of purpose.

It’s not exactly that South Carolina’s Beckham Field was constructed specifically to host NCAA Tournament softball games, as one might read Gamecocks executive associate athletics director Charles Bloom’s tweet. Rather, a facility like the one built five years ago facilitates the kind of program building and recruiting that ultimately leads to teams earning national seeds.

Either way, Gamecocks softball coach Beverly Smith will take it.

“I believe that,” Smith said. “When we designed the stadium in 2013, we had all that in mind. We wanted it to meet all the TV criteria, the hosting criteria. And I really do think we have one of the finest facilities in the country. So I’m excited. But I’m excited for our players to be here, to be in front of our fans and just have that Gamecocks vibe behind us.”

Her Gamecocks will host UNC Greensboro on Friday at 7:30 p.m., following Liberty-Hofstra at 5. It’ll be the NCAA Tournament christening of the place, as USC hasn’t hosted since 2007 and hasn’thosted as a No. 1 seed since 2002.

But unlike many NCAA events, the stadium won’t be whitewashed to look more “neutral.”

“They send us banners,” director of operations, event management and sport camps Megan Kennington said. “We’re also going to put the red, white and blue bunting up, make it feel special like they do at baseball.”

Kennington, who also handled the women’s basketball regionals the school has hosted the past six years, said the Gamecocks can leave their logos on the field. Her biggest challenge has been transforming spaces that aren’t set up for the sorts of things they’ll see this weekend.

An example would be turning a small team room, where the Gamecocks usually eat a pregame meal, into a mandated media work room.

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