Nov. 26, 2012
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall softball will face nine teams that participated in last year’s NCAA tournament as head coach Shonda Stanton unveiled the 2013 schedule Monday.
Twenty-two home games are included on the 55 game schedule, which will be the 20th season of Marshall softball. There are four non-conference tournaments that are spread out over the first four weekends of play.
Four of the nine postseason squads from last season that the Thundering Herd will go up against come from Conference USA and will all be road tests during the year.
It will also be the last C-USA meetings with Houston, Memphis and UCF, as they all exit for the Big East follow the 2013 season.
Marshall will start its season in Tampa, Fla. during the USF-Demarini Tournament Feb. 8-10. The Herd’s season will begin with a tall task on Feb. 8 as it plays Michigan and South Florida. UM was a Super Regional participant last season and has not had losing season during its 34 years of existence. The Herd and Wolverines will meet for just the second time, with their last meeting coming in 1997. Meanwhile, USF is coming off a College World Series appearance last season.
“Last year, with our RPI being in just the low 50’s, we know if we would have been in the high 40’s it would have been hard to keep us out and so we have strengthen our schedule to the point that we open with Michigan and South Florida,” Stanton said about her 2013 slate.
Stanton’s squad will also go up against Florida Atlantic twice and Samford during the three day tournament in Florida.
The second weekend of the 2013 season will send Marshall to Atlanta, Ga. for the Georgia Tech Classic Feb. 15-17. The Yellow Jackets made an appearance in the postseason last year as did fellow Classic participant Miami. MU and GT will play once during the classic (Feb. 15) while the Herd matches up with former MAC foe Miami twice, once on Feb. 16 and again on Feb. 17. The third opponent for Marshall during the three day event is Indiana. MU will play the Big Ten Conference team twice, a team it holds a 4-0 all-time advantage over.
The Herd will be on the road for the third straight weekend in February as it participates in the Spartan Classic, hosted by UNC Greensboro, coach Stanton’s alma-mater. Marshall faces three teams during the three day event running from Feb. 22-24. MU faces Drexel and UNCG twice and will battle Quinnipiac for the first time in program history.
“We go to the Georgia Tech tournament, where they are a top 25 and a strong ACC team, then mix in UNCG and get to go back to my alma-mater, where I really enjoyed my college experience and want that for our players as well,” Stanton said about the early season tournaments.
For the fifth straight season Marshall will host its own tournament with the annual Marshall Invitational March 1-3. Buffalo, Eastern Illinois and Robert Morris will travel to Huntington and will each face the Herd twice. It will be the first meeting since 1999 between MU and RMU while EIU will be playing Marshall for the first time since 2003. Marshall is undefeated all-time between the two teams. The Herd and Buffalo are former MAC opponents, with MU up 13-7 in the all-time series.
The fifth NCAA tournament team from last season that Marshall will face is a road contest at Kentucky March 6. The two teams, separated by less than 130 miles, will have their 11th meeting all-time.
Conference USA play begins for the Herd March 9-10 as it travels to the 2012 C-USA champion Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane downed Marshall in last year’s C-USA Championship game before advancing to the NCAA tournament.
“Our very first weekend in C-USA play is a rematch of the two teams that were battling it out for the conference championship last year,” Stanton said about opening with Tulsa.
“Our players understand the value of a strong start, playing hard through each and every weekend of conference and finishing strong.”
The home conference slate for MU begins March 16-17 as Southern Miss comes to town for three games. The two teams played a 12 inning contest last year in Hattiesburg, with the Herd winning the marathon contest, 2-1.
Spring break will take Marshall to the Sunshine State for the second time in the 2013 season. MU will do battle with Stetson on March 20 before squaring off with UCF March 22 and 23. The Knights are another NCAA tournament participant from last year. The Herd swept and shutout UCF in three games to end the regular-season last year, which propelled it into the tournament as the three seed.
The March portion of the schedule ends at home for Stanton as her team welcomes non-conference opponent Wright State for two on March 26 before entertaining Memphis March 29-30. The Herd is 15-5 all-time against Memphis, the best mark for Marshall against a C-USA opponent.
A trip to Houston on April 6 and 7 pits the Herd against the Cougars, the eighth 2012 postseason team on the schedule. The April scheduled chugs along on the 10th with a pair of games in the first all-time meeting with Northern Kentucky. A weekend series with East Carolina will follow on April 13 and 14.
Marshall will take to the road for the next seven contests. A trip to play two against Ohio, a team that the Herd has played the most in its program history, transpires April 17. Following an off weekend, MU returns to the site of last year’s C-USA tournament, Birmingham, Ala., for its final conference road series against UAB, April 27-28. The Blazers and the Herd dueled it out in a 10 inning contest in last year’s C-USA tournament semifinals. UAB is the ninth and final 2012 postseason team on MU’s schedule.
The road portion of schedule along with out-of-conference play concludes May 1 with a twin-bill against Morehead State. The Herd is 26-8 all-time against the Eagles.
The 2013 regular season concludes May 4-5 with UTEP. Marshall swept the Miners last season in El Paso, Texas as Stanton picked up career victory 400 during the final game of the three game set.
“I’m excited. It’s going to a tough, competitive year in C-USA with many teams returning top performers and we look for this year to be another multiple NCAA bid year for the conference,” Stanton said about the C-USA schedule. “We are going to have bring our ‘A’ game every weekend.”
The Conference USA Tournament will be held May 9-11 in Tulsa, Okla.