MUNCIE, Ind. - - Ball State softball first-year head coach Tyra Perry has announced the team’s 2014 schedule which features 11 teams which played in the 2013 NCAA Softball Championship, including Women’s College World Series participant Arizona State.
“Our schedule is going to test us every time we step on the field,” Parry said. “In addition to playing some of the premier programs in the country, we are battling teams which are fighting to make a name for themselves much like we are. As we strive to reach the NCAA Championship, it’s important to play a tough schedule which we have achieved with 11 participants from the 2013 event, including three super regional teams and a Women’s College World Series participant, on our slate this year.”
The Cardinals return 14 letterwinners, including seven position starters and its top two starting pitchers, from last year’s team which captured the program's fourth Mid-American Conference regular season championship in the past five years with a 37-17 (18-3 MAC) record.
BSU opens its 55-game regular season slate Feb. 7-9 at the Century Link Classic hosted by Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. First up for Ball State at the three-day event will be an 11 a.m. ET (10 a.m. CT) contest versus Southern Illinois.
Ball State is slated to battle its first two 2013 NCAA Tournament participants the following weekend (Feb. 14-16), when it travels to Spartanburg, South Carolina, for the Buffalo Wild Wings Spartan Invitational. Event host USC-Upstate and Ball State’s final opponent Virginia Tech both reached the NCAA Tournament last season.
After playing in the Blues City Classic hosted by Memphis Feb. 22-23, the Cardinals will play in perhaps its toughest tournament of the season when it travels to Tempe, Arizona, for the Louisville Slugger Invitational Feb. 28-March 2. In addition to playing tournament host and Women’s College World Series participant Arizona State, which is led by former Ball State head coach Craig Nicholson, Ball State will face NCAA teams in South Carolina and Minnesota.
Following the tough weekend, the Cardinals will play a March 4 doubleheader at NCAA Tournament participant Arizona before heading back to Muncie.
After a few days off, Ball State will hit the road once again by playing single games at Jacksonville State (March 11) and UAB (March 12). The following weekend, March 14-16, the team opens play in the War Eagle Classic hosted by Auburn, in which it will battle in-state rival and NCAA Tournament participant IPFW.
Ball State is scheduled to play its first game in the state of Indiana March 19 when it travels to Butler for a 3 p.m. showdown. BSU will then conclude its pre-conference slate at the Mizzou Tournament (March 21-23), in which it will battle one more 2013 NCAA Tournament participant in host Missouri.
The Cardinals open league play with a March 28 doubleheader at Buffalo, before closing the weekend with single games at Kent State (March 29-30).
Ball State will host its first games at the BSU Softball Complex April 4 with a doubleheader versus Bowling Green, while hosting Toledo for single games April 5-6.
The Cardinals’ final mid-week contest will be April 16, when Indiana visits the BSU Softball Complex for a scheduled 4 p.m. first pitch.
Ball State closes league play the first weekend in May, with a doubleheader versus defending MAC Tournament Champion and 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Central Michigan (May 2) and Eastern Michigan (May 3-4).
The 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament runs May 7-10 at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio, with the winner of the event earning the league’s automatic bid into the 2014 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.The 2014 NCAA Division I Softball Championship selection show will be held May 11, with the tournament. NCAA Regionals will be held May 15-18 on 16 campus sites, followed by the NCAA Super Regionals May 22-25 on eight campus sites. The 2014 NCAA Women’s College World Series will be held at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 29 to June 4.