Softball Releases 2009 Schedule
Oct. 30, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C. - After qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in 2008, the East Carolina softball team did not shy away from scheduling a number of teams that could prepare the Pirates for a return trip in 2009. Thirty home games, including three home tournaments, and challenging invitationals at Alabama and Florida State highlight the 2009 East Carolina softball schedule announced Thursday by head coach Tracey Kee.
ECU will face off against 10 squads that made NCAA Regional appearances a year ago, including two squads that made it all the way to the 2008 Women's College World Series. Five opponents on this year's schedule also finished the season ranked in both the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and Ultimate College Softball national polls.
"We are very excited about this year's schedule," Kee said. "We will be challenged early and often. Knowing you are going to face NCAA Tournament and World Series participants from February to May is a task our kids are ready and willing to take on."
The Pirates will open the 2009 campaign at home on Saturday, Feb. 7 in the ECU Invitational against Virginia at 1 p.m., followed by Middle Tennessee State at 3 p.m. East Carolina will also host the Pirate Classic (Feb. 27-28, Mar. 1) and Pirate Clash (Feb. 27-28) during the year.
After the initial homestand, the team then hits the road for two very challenging weekend tests, at the BAMA Bash! (Feb. 13-15), hosted by the University of Alabama, and the Seminole Classic (Feb. 21-22), hosted by Florida State University. While in Tuscaloosa, the Pirates will face Wisconsin, Notre Dame and SEC tournament runner-up and World Series participant Alabama. During their trip to Tallahassee, ECU will square off against NCAA Super Regional participant Michigan and NCAA Regional selection Florida State, while also taking on UC Riverside and Indiana.
Conference USA play opens March 7, when East Carolina team welcomes defending regular season conference champion, and 2008 NCAA Super Regional participant, Houston to town for a three-game series. The Cougars finished last season ranked 13th in the USA Today/NFCA poll and 12th in the Ultimate College Softball poll. Other C-USA schools making the trek to Greenville in 2009 include C-USA Tournament Champion UCF (Mar. 28-29), 2008 NCAA Regional participant Tulsa (Apr. 4-5) as well as Memphis (Apr. 18-19).
Road stops along the C-USA trail include Southern Miss (Mar. 14-15), UAB (Mar. 21-22), UTEP (Apr. 10-11) and Marshall (Apr. 25-26).
"Conference USA will continue to be as competitive as ever," Kee believes. "The parity in our conference is unbelievable. I truly believe any of the nine schools could see themselves at the top when it's all said and done."
The schedule also features a home-and-home series against instate foes N.C. State (Mar. 18 and Apr. 15), North Carolina (Apr. 1 and 8) and Campbell (Apr. 7 and May 2). ECU will also travel to face North Carolina schools Elon (Mar. 3) and UNC Wilmington (Mar. 25) before hosting UNC Greensboro (Apr. 22).
The Pirates finish off the regular season hosting the other Women's College World Series participant on the schedule, Virginia Tech on May 2 and 3.
"Our kids know our season is a marathon and not a sprint," Kee noted. "We'll approach each game one at a time. We'll learn from our wins and our losses. Hopefully when it draws to a close, we will have put a body of work together ECU and we can be proud of."