ORONO, Maine — Erin Bogdanovich and Molly Flowers were in elementary school when the University of Maine’s softball team last appeared in an NCAA Regional in 2004.

But they are hoping to help the Black Bears make a statement this weekend when they participate in the Athens Regional at the University of Georgia.

The 28-19 Black Bears will take on the host Bulldogs, 40-17 and the nation’s No. 16 team, at 3:30 p.m. Friday

Oklahoma State, 29-24, and Northwestern, 29-29, will open the double-elimination tournament at 1 p.m.

The winner of the tournament will play the winner of the regional being hosted by defending two-time national champion Florida in a best-of-three series the following weekend.

Junior Bogdanovich and sophomore Flowers epitomize the evolution of the America East champion Black Bears. Like several of their teammates, they have made dramatic strides from a year ago.

Lefty Bogdanovich was 1-7 with a 4.18 earned run average, while righty Flowers was 3-5 with a 4.06 ERA.

Bogdanovich is 10-4 with a 2.87 ERA this season and was named the America East Pitcher of the Year. Bogdanovich has won her last nine decisions.

Her sister, Alexis, was the America East Pitcher of the Year last season and will be in Georgia with several other family members cheering on the Black Bears.

Flowers is 11-10 with a 2.58 ERA and has struck out 142 in just 108 ⅓ innings.

“We’ve made it this far. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing and have fun,” Bogdanovich said.

“I’m going to focus on hitting all my spots,” added Bogdanovich. “I’ve got to keep the ball down and not give them anything good to hit.”

The South Portland native features a rise, fastball, change-up and drop “and I’m also working on a curve and screwball.”

Flowers said, “I’m not going to worry about them making contact. I have confidence in our defense. I’ve got to throw to both sides of the plate.”

The East Haven, Connecticut, native is looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s definitely exciting. We’ll be playing in a big stadium with a lot of fans. But at the end of the day, it’s softball,” she said.

Catcher Janelle Bouchard, the AE Player of the Year and the team’s only senior, said it will be important to keep the pitchers relaxed.

“We can’t make it bigger than it is and put too much pressure on them. We’ve got to keep them loose,” said Bouchard.

Bouchard expects an intense battle with Georgia.

“They’re scrappy and we’re scrappy. It’s a great matchup,” said Bouchard. “We’re hot right now. We scored 14 runs in the [America East] championship game.

“We want to put Maine on the map and this is a great opportunity for us to do that,” she added.