For the first time since 2016, the UCF softball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Division I Softball committee announced Sunday the 64-team field that will compete in the 2021 NCAA Softball Tournament, and the Knights (39-17-1) will head to Tallahassee to take on Auburn (27-22) to begin the tournament on Friday, May 21 at 2 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2.

If the Knights win, they will move on to play the winner of Florida State/Kennesaw State. The winner of the Tallahassee Regional will move on to face the winner of the Baton Rouge Regional, which features overall seventh seed LSU, McNeese State, George Washington and Louisiana Lafayette.

With this year’s at-large bid to the postseason, 2021 will mark UCF’s eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in its 20-year history.

“It’s so exciting [to be selected to the NCAA Tournament],” says head coach Cindy Ball-Malone. “This was something that we set out to do last year, and to see it come through and to be able to live it out now, there are really no words to describe it. I’m really proud of this group. This has been a grind and a tough year, so to be able to get back into the postseason is awesome.”

“This has been a grind and a tough year, so to be able to get back into the postseason is awesome.” — Cindy Ball-Malone, head coach

The Knights are coming off a weekend that saw them go 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference Championship Tournament, including wins over ECU and South Florida, before falling to No. 25 Wichita State in the championship game. It was the Knights’ third AAC Tournament championship appearance in program history (2014, 2015 and 2021).

The Knights’ 39 wins as of May 16 are the most wins UCF has posted in a season since 2015. The Black and Gold also have three wins over top-five ranked teams in the country to this point in the season, besting then-No. 5 Florida twice and No. 2 Arizona.

The softball team is the seventh Knights squad to punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament during 2020-21, joining the women’s golf, women’s basketballvolleyballmen’s soccermen’s tennis and women’s tennis teams. Additionally, the football team made its fifth consecutive postseason bowl appearance at the Boca Raton Bowl.