Nov. 19, 2007
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -
The Marshall University softball team released its 2008 schedule, which consists of eight NCAA Regional participants and three 2007 Women's College World Series teams, head coach Shonda Stanton recently announced.
The Thundering Herd's quest for a Conference USA Championship and a bid to the NCAA Regional will be the toughest in Stanton's tenure, given Marshall's non-conference schedule. The Herd will take part in four invitationals, before entering C-USA action.
"This is our toughest schedule in program history and it is a reflection of the confidence we have in this year's team," Stanton said.
"We believe it is time for our program to take a step forward this season to post season play. Our competition in non-conference contests will help us gear up for the battle in the CUSA title run. We will be challenged every single time we step on the field and we will need to be committed to getting better every day."
To open the 2008 season, Marshall travels to Athens, Ga., for the Red/Black Showcase hosted by the University of Georgia (Feb. 8-10). The Herd begins tournament play against DePaul, a member of the 2007 WCWS, before meeting the College of Charleston and NCAA Regional qualifier, Georgia.
The Herd hits the road for its second tournament, the Tiger Invitational, hosted by Auburn University (Feb. 15-17). Marshall meets the likes of Gardner-Webb, McNeese State and Furman before taking on Auburn, who finished last season with a RPI rank of 41. The Herd closes out the tournament against Evansville.
For its third straight weekend on the road, the Herd trek across country to San Diego, Calif., for the University of San Diego Tournament (Feb. 22-24). Marshall competes against four West Coast schools, including Nevada, host San Diego, UC Riverside and NCAA Regional attendant Loyola Marymount.
Marshall concludes tournament play with a trip to Chattanooga, Tenn., when it contends in the Frost Classic (Feb. 29-March 2). The Herd squares off against Ohio Valley Conference's Eastern Illinois in the opener, before challenging Mid-American Conference member Buffalo, with the SEC's Kentucky to follow. Marshall rounds out tournament play against Jackson State and host Chattanooga.
Following the conclusion of its final tournament, the Herd heads into Conference USA action against Memphis (March 8). Last year the Herd edged Memphis 2-1 in the C-USA tournament. In its third season of C-USA action, the Herd looks to return to the championship style of play that has distinguished the program over the last few years. . During its inaugural campaign, Marshall finished second and earned a spot in the championship title game. The Tigers have finished the past two seasons with a conference record of 10-13.
The Herd then battles two straight NCAA Regional participants when it travels to Louisville, Ky., and returns home for the other. Marshall competes against the Cardinals (March 12) in a double header, before hosting its home opener against the 2007 C-USA regular season and tournament champion, Houston Cougars (March 15), in the new $2.5 million softball facility.
Marshall hits the road, for arguably the toughest road trip in program history, when it plays C-USA foe UTEP (March 21-22) and then continues its way West to Arizona. The Herd will match up against two WCWS participants including last year's national champion. Arizona State (March 25) is on tap first for the Herd. ASU reached the WCWS after claiming the Regional Champion and then besting LSU in the Super Regional. The Sun Devils were knocked out of the WCWS by DePaul.
The Herd then meets up with the NCAA National Champion the past two years, Arizona (March 26), in Tucson. Marshall is looking to avenge a 2005 loss against the Wildcats.
After it's viscous road trip, Marshall returns home to battle Central Florida (March 29), before traveling north to battle Big 10 and 2007 NCAA Regional member, Ohio State (April 2). East Carolina (April 5) and Ohio (April 9) follow.
UAB (April 12), Morehead State (April 15), Southern Miss (April 19) and Tulsa (April 27) round out play in the month of April.
The Herd concludes the 2008 regular season against Georgetown (May 3), with the C-USA Championship to follow, May 8-10. The conference tournament is hosted by Houston. A new single elimination format will be implemented to the 2008 C-USA tournament.