Joseph Announces 2018 Softball Schedule
Spartans take on nine NCAA Tournament teams from 2017
East Lansing, Mich. -- - Michigan State softball coach Jacquie Joseph has announced the 2018 Spartan softball schedule, which features games against schools from 14 different conferences, nine non-conference teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and three which advanced to the Women’s College World Series in 2017.
“This is an ambitious non-conference schedule that we’ve put together. We feel like we’ve got the personnel that will be competitive, and the level of competition we’ll see in the non-conference schedule will prepare us for the Big Ten season,” said head coach Jacquie Joseph. “We have a senior-laden team with some talented newcomers, and I think our players are excited about the challenges our schedule will pose. The experience on our roster will help us attack this schedule in a way that I really think will be beneficial to us as the season wears on. We’ll see all different styles of pitchers. We’re pretty excited to get underway right after the holidays.”
MSU’s Big Ten schedule features seven three-game series as well as a pair of midweek contests against Michigan. The Spartans have three home series: against Indiana (March 30-April 1), Minnesota (April 6-8), and Rutgers (April 27-29). MSU has road series at Nebraska (March 23-25), Penn State (April 13-15), Ohio State (April 20-22) and Maryland (May 4-6). Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio State were all NCAA Tournament teams in 2017.
The Spartans open their season with four straight tournaments, opening on Feb. 9 at the Florida Atlantic First Pitch Classic. In addition to the host Owls, MSU will play Bethune-Cookman, Northern Illinois, Boston University, and Duke, which is in its first season as a varsity softball program. The second weekend (Feb. 16-18) puts MSU at South Carolina, where the Spartans will play Georgetown and Mercer in addition to NCAA squads Southern Illinois and the host Gamecocks.
A weekend in Miami (Feb. 23-25) is on deck for the third weekend, where MSU will play two games each against NCAA qualifier and host Florida International as well as Boston College, which was third in the ACC last season. MSU also has a single game against MAAC entry Siena at FIU.
The Spartans will play a nine-game schedule over spring break in California. MSU will participate in the prestigious Judy Garman Classic the first weekend (March 2-4), where it will take on 2016 national runner-up Florida, a pair of NCAA Regional finalists in Louisiana-Lafayette and Cal State Fullerton in addition to Stanford and Cal Poly. All games of the Judy Garman Classic will be played at Fullerton, and MSU will have a second game with the host Titans mid-week. In the second Spring Break weekend, MSU will move onto the Louisville Slugger Invitational at Long Beach State, with games against the 49ers, San Diego State, and 2016 NCAA qualifier UCLA.
The sixth and final weekend of pre-Big Ten play (March 17-18) sends MSU to Texas A&M for two games against the Aggies, who were a Women’s College World Series team a year ago. The Spartans also play a single game vs. MAAC entry Marist.
Once in the Big Ten portion of its schedule, the Spartans have four non-conference games against regional competition, playing in-state rivals Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Eastern Michigan as well as Notre Dame, which was an NCAA Tournament Team a year ago.
The Spartans return 15 letterwinners from its 2017 team that finished 34-24 and seventh in the Big Ten with an 11-12 record in Conference play. The Spartans lost just one starter to graduation after advancing to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) Regional Final.
The 2017 Spartans established new offensive team records in seven categories: Runs (345), batting average (.313), homers (66), RBI (320), total bases (820), slugging percentage (.528) and on-base percentage (.405), while several individual single-season and career records also fell. Among MSU’s returnees is senior Lea Foerster, who earned NFCA Second Team All-America honors, All-Region selections Kaitlyn Eveland (Jr., 3B) and Kelcey Carrasco (So., DP/C) and a pair of senior starting pitchers Bridgette Rainey and Kristina Zalewski.