Redbird Softball Releases 2014 Schedule
Jan. 17, 2014
NORMAL, Ill. - After trips to the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons, 29th-year Illinois State softball head coach Melinda Fischer has assembled yet another challenging schedule with hopes of another postseason appearance in 2014. The Redbirds will play a total of 20 games against teams that made the field of 64 in 2013, including contests against five of the eight 2013 Women's College World Series (WCWS) participants - Florida, Michigan, Washington, Arizona State and defending national champion Oklahoma.
In addition to the five WCWS teams, ISU will play three teams that made it to the Super Regional round (Louisiana-Lafayette, Missouri and Oregon), as well as seven that participated in the Regional round (Wisconsin, South Florida, James Madison, Hofstra, Notre Dame, Louisville and Northern Iowa). The schedule features 55 games overall, including 15 at Marian Kneer Stadium. Additionally, the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Softball Championship will be hosted by ISU from May 8-10.
"This might be the toughest schedule we have ever played, if you look at it from past performances of teams," Fischer said. "Playing a challenging schedule is very important. We've identified it as something very necessary if we want to continue to increase what we do as a team. To be able to play these teams throughout the year is huge in keeping us prepared for the toughness of the Missouri Valley Conference this season."
ISU's first 24 games will be played away from home at five separate tournaments. The Redbirds will begin the season at South Florida's Wilson DeMarini Tournament, Feb. 7-9. The tournament features games against Florida, eight-time MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman, Wisconsin, South Florida and Michigan.
Three WCWS teams await ISU at Arizona State's Littlewood Classic, which will take place from Feb. 14-16. The Redbirds will take on Washington, SIU Edwardsville, Michigan State, Arizona State and Oklahoma at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
ISU returns to the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., from Feb. 21-23. The Redbirds will begin play with four rematches from last year's tournament against Louisiana-Lafayette, South Florida, James Madison and Hofstra, before rounding out play with a game against Connecticut.
The Redbirds head to Florida for the second-straight weekend from Feb. 28-March 2, this time to Disney's Wide World of Sports to participate in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. ISU will square off against Auburn and Notre Dame on Friday, Missouri and Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday and Oregon on Sunday.
Rounding out the Redbirds' pre-conference schedule will be four games at Louisville's Red and Black Classic from March 7-9. ISU will again take on Ohio, Ohio State, Louisville and Massachusetts before moving into conference play.
The Redbirds begin the quest for their 13th MVC regular-season title by hosting Drake for three games from March 15-16. ISU then travels to Columbia, Mo., for a midweek double header against Missouri, March 19, before a three-game series at Northern Iowa, March 22-23. Valley play continues with three games against Indiana State, March 29-30, followed by a home game against Illinois, April 2.
ISU will then travel to Southern Illinois for a three-game set, April 5-6, before playing its final non-conference game against DePaul, April 9. Following the game against the Blue Demons are five-straight road games, three at Loyola, April 12-13, and a double header at Bradley, April 16. Evansville comes to Marian Kneer Stadium for three games from April 18-19, before the Redbirds host Bradley for a single game, April 22. ISU will travel to Missouri State for three games, April 26-27, before concluding the regular season at home against Wichita State, May 3-4.
Admission to Marian Kneer Stadium is free for all regular-season contests.
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