MUNCIE, Ind. - - Ball State softball head coach Craig Nicholson unveiled the team's 2013 schedule which features 20 games versus NCAA RPI Top 115 opponents, a pair of tournaments in Boca Raton, Fla., a tournament at Colorado State, four midweek non-conference games versus in-state rivals and 22 league games.
The Cardinals, who return 13 letterwinners and eight position starters from last year's team which captured the program's third Mid-American Conference regular season championship in the past four years with a 40-15 (17-3 MAC) record, open the 2013 campaign Feb. 16-17 at the KSU Classic hosted by Kennesaw State.
"It's going to be very exciting to see how this season plays out," said Nicholson. "Our schedule features a good mix of top 100 programs, including 2012 NCAA Regional host Louisville, as well as some up-and-coming teams like ourselves which are battling for recognition. We are going to test ourselves early and often as we tune up for a grueling conference run."
In addition to the KSU Classic, the Cardinals are slated to play in pre-conference tournaments at Central Arkansas (Feb. 22-24), Florida Atlantic (March 1-3 & March 7-9), Louisville (March 16-18) and Colorado State (March 22-24).
While on its spring break trip to Florida, the Cardinals will also play a doubleheader at Florida International Tuesday, March 5.
Ball State is scheduled to open its 2013 home slate Tuesday, March 19, when it hosts Butler for a 4 p.m. first pitch at the BSU Softball Complex. The Cardinals will also play midweek road games at IPFW (April 3), Purdue (April 10) and Indiana (April 23) over the course of the season.
Ball State opens its 22-game Mid-American Conference schedule Friday, March 29, with a road doubleheader at Bowling Green, who the Cardinals beat on the final two days of the 2012 regular season to earn the outright league title. BSU closes out its MAC-opening weekend at Toledo (March 30-31).
Ball State opens the home portion of its 2013 MAC schedule with an April 5 doubleheader versus Northern Illinois, and the Cardinals will host 2012 MAC West Division runner-up Western Michigan the following two days (April 6-7).
"We are going to be tested early and often once league play begins," added Nicholson. "Bowling Green, who we start league play with, battled us down to the wire for the MAC title last year and is going to be looking for revenge after we beat them in all three meetings last season. The second weekend does not get any easier as we host divisional rivals Northern Illinois and Western Michigan."
Ball State's remaining Friday MAC schedule includes road doubleheaders at Akron (April 12) and Central Michigan (April 26), plus a home twinbill against Buffalo (May 3). BSU's remaining weekend series schedule includes home contests versus Miami (April 20-21) and Kent State (May 4-5), as well as road games at Ohio (April 13-14) and Eastern Michigan (April 27-28).
The 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament runs May 8-11 at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio, with the league's top eight teams advancing to the event. The winner of the tournament will earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament which opens with regional action May 16.