MSU Faces Stiff Competition in Spring Schedule
Oct. 31, 2013
East Lansing, Mich. - - Fourteen NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, including defending National Champion Oklahoma and three other teams which appeared in the College World Series, appear on the 2014 Michigan State softball schedule, as announced by head coach Jacquie Joseph on Thursday.
Nineteen of MSU's 26 non-conference opponents finished fifth or better in their conference in 2013, and five are their defending conference champions. Washington and Oklahoma, as well as Big Ten foes Nebraska and Michigan, made the Women's College World Series. Four Big Ten teams received bids to the NCAA Tournament overall.
"This year's schedule is as good as any we have put together," said Joseph, who is entering her 21st year as the Spartan head coach. "The schedule is designed to challenge us, and provide opportunities to get better as we move through it. It gives us an opportunity to play teams which will prepare us for the rigors of the Big Ten.
"I think we've put together a schedule which features a good mix of teams who will contend for their conference championship, including last year's National Champions, Oklahoma," continued Joseph. The Big Ten Conference is one of the premier softball conferences in the county, and our non-conference schedule will help prepare us for those weekly battles that we'll face once we get into conference play."
MSU opens the season with six non-conference tournaments in four different states. The Spartans open the 2014 campaign at the Stetson Tournament in DeLand, Fla. February 7-9, where they will face both Stetson and Rhode Island, playing two games against each. The following weekend, MSU heads to Tempe, Ariz. for five contests, including the games against Oklahoma and Washington, in addition to taking on SIU-Edwardsville, Illinois State, and San Jose State. Each of those teams finished third or better in their conference last season, as San Jose State and Oklahoma each were their league titleists and Washington finished tied for second in the Pac-12.
The Spartans wrap up February with a trip to Columbia, S.C. for four games against UNC-Wilmington, Boston University, South Carolina, and Georgetown Feb. 21-23. Through the first three weekends, MSU will play 11 teams from 11 different conferences.
MSU travels throughout Florida for Spring break, playing 10 games . Beginning March 1-2, the Spartans are at the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament, taking on Bethune-Cookman, Long Island University, Hofstra, and the host Eagles. MSU will play midweek games at Florida Atlantic and Florida International in the Miami area, then wrap up spring break at the Florida Atlantic tournament in Boca Raton against Marshall, Florida Atlantic, Virginia Tech, and South Alabama.
The Spartans will once again open northern play at the Indiana Invitational in Bloomington, taking on regional rivals Illinois-Chicago, Toledo, and Wright State on March 15-16.
Big Ten play opens March 21-23 for MSU at Ohio State, and the home opener at Secchia Stadium is scheduled for March 28-30, when MSU welcomes Purdue to East Lansing. MSU has a mid-week contest at Notre Dame on April 2 before welcoming Penn State for a three-game series April 4-6. MSU will head back to Bloomington for a midweek double-header on April 9; a series against Michigan opens on Friday, April 11, then the next two games are played in East Lansing on April 12 and 13.
MSU plays two of its final three Big Ten series on the road, at Iowa April 18-20, at home against Nebraska April 25-27, and then at Northwestern to close the regular-season May 2-4. The Wildcats will host this year's Big Ten Tournament May 8-11.
The Spartans return 12 letterwinners and welcome seven newcomers in 2014, and look to improve upon a 24-25 overall record and seventh-place Big Ten finish from 2013.
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