The Redbirds will play Ohio, Ohio State and Massachusetts once, and host Louisville twice.
Coach Fischer and senior first baseman/outfielder Laura Canopy, the reigning MVC Player of the Week, preview the Red and Black Classic.
ISU will play five games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex against teams with a combined record of 55-12-1.
Coach Fischer and senior infielder Kolby Hoffman preview the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Four of the Redbirds' opponents at the event made the NCAA Tournament in 2013, as their difficult non-conference schedule continues.
WJBC Redbird Recap - Northern Illinois. vs. ISU
ISU Softball Regional Highlights
WJBC Recap - Softball MVC Championship Game
The Redbirds fell to Northern Iowa, 9-3, on Senior Day at Marian Kneer Stadium.
The Redbirds knocked off Missouri State, 9-1 in six innings, to take the series, 2-1.
The Redbirds and Bears split a doubleheader, April 6. ISU won game one, 1-0, before dropping game two, 7-4.
Only 13 active head coaches in NCAA Division I softball can claim to have won at least 900 games in their coaching career. Illinois State head coach Melinda Fischer, now in her 29th season at the helm of the Redbird softball program, can claim such an honor. And many more.
The all-time winningest coach in Illinois State Athletics history. Missouri Valley Conference All-Centennial Head Softball Coach. A combined nine Missouri Valley Conference and Gateway Athletic Conference regular-season championships. A 2010 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee. All of that and more define Illinois State head softball coach Melinda Fischer.
Fischer's 950 career victories, spread out among 30 previous seasons as a collegiate head coach (at both Eastern Illinois [1979-80] and Illinois State [1986-present]), rank her as the 18th-winningest coach in NCAA Division I softball history and the 11th-winningest active head coach. She's continued her historical rise through the career coaching ranks with her 900th-career victory, a feat she achieved via a 4-0 win at Missouri State on March 16, 2012.
Simply put, Fischer knows how to motivate her student-athletes to succeed.
Fischer has more wins in her Illinois State head coaching career than any other coach in Redbird Athletics history, with an ISU softball head coaching record that stands at 909-611-4 (.598) entering the 2014 season. She won her 900th and 901st games at ISU with a doubleheader sweep of Bradley, April 11, 2013.
She earned her 714th-career victory at Illinois State April 14, 2007, with a win over Drake, and in the process, passed legendary Redbird baseball coach Duffy Bass (deceased), as the all-time winningest coach in Redbird Athletics history. In May 2007, Fischer was recognized by the Missouri Valley Conference as the league's All-Centennial Team head coach. Additionally, Fischer is not only the Missouri Valley Conference's winningest coach of all-time, but also its winningest coach in conference play.
During her 28 previous seasons at the helm of the Illinois State softball program, Fischer has directed the Redbirds to national prominence, most recently with their ninth NCAA Regional appearance in 2012. Fischer has led her teams to 10 regular-season Valley titles. She also has two Gateway regular-season championships to her credit, as well as four Valley Tournament titles.
Her success and devotion to softball extends beyond Illinois State, as she was the first recipient of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Distinguished Service Award at the Speedline Coach of the Year/NFCA Hall of Fame Banquet in December 2002.
In addition to guiding her teams to high levels of success, Fischer's numerous awards and honors, plus her team's accolades, speak for themselves.
A recipient of six conference coach of the year honors, Fischer has led a coaching staff that was honored as both the Missouri Valley Conference Coaching Staff of the Year and the Speedline/NFCA Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the year in 2006. Two regional coach of the year citations, 17 All-Americans, five College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-Americans and countless other honors highlight Illinois State's success under Fischer.
Fischer's attraction to softball started well before she became head softball coach at Illinois State in 1986. She began her coaching career in 1974 after a four-year stint as an ISU student-athlete. She became a graduate assistant coach for ISU's softball and basketball teams while completing a master's degree in physical education.
As an athlete at Illinois State, Fischer helped lead the Redbirds to the 1969 Women's College World Series, where they finished second.
Although the team fell one game shy of winning the first Women's College World Series, her contribution to the team led to her induction into the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the 1969 national runner-up softball team. She has also been inducted as a coach in 1993.
Knowing she would work her way back to NCAA Division I softball, Fischer started a three-year coaching stint at Eastern Illinois in 1976 after earning her master's degree at ISU. Fischer was originally hired as the head women's basketball coach, a post she held for three years.
She took over the Panther softball program after her first year.
In two years with EIU softball, Fischer led the Panthers to a 41-25 mark, including a 1980 season that saw Eastern Illinois crowned the Illinois Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (IAIAW) State Champion, which secured the Panthers a spot in the regional championship.
Fischer returned to her alma mater to become a co-head coach of the women's basketball team in 1980. She joined her former coach and fellow ISU Athletics Hall of Famer Dr. Jill Hutchison for the next five seasons. During her first two seasons, she also served as an assistant coach for the softball team before taking over as head coach in 1986.
In 1988, her team advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. Then in 1995, her squad compiled 46 wins - the third-highest total by any team in ISU Athletics history - and claimed another conference title with a 19-1 MVC mark.
Not only does Fischer have a knack for winning and attracting quality players, she is a respected leader in the softball community.
Fischer first became a member of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) in 1960 and has been appointed as an NCAA Regional representative for numerous regional tournaments, as well as serving on NCAA Regional ranking committees. She has served as chair of the NFCA All-American Committee and is currently the NFCA Convention Director. She is also tournament director for the NFCA Leadoff Classic, held annually in Georgia. From 1993-97, Fischer served as the first-vice president for the NFCA.
Fischer continues to utilize her softball knowledge, not only as a coach and administrator, but also as a teacher. She contributes her skill through camps and clinics, while continuing to mold Illinois State into a national contender.