Dec. 18, 2013
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall softball will face five teams that participated in the 2013 NCAA tournament as head coach Shonda Stanton unveiled the 2014 schedule Wednesday.
"We graduated a number of key starters from our NCAA run last spring, so it will be exciting to see which players will step up for us this season," Stanton said. "We return only three everyday starters from a year ago, so again we really look forward to see who develops and becomes a significant and consistent performer."
The 2013 Conference USA Champions will play 18 home games on the 56-game schedule. Four non-conference tournaments will be played in the first four weeks of the season, including a tournament hosted by one of the new C-USA foes, Florida Atlantic, which Marshall will face in conference action before the tournament.
"With only four upperclassmen, we will need each of them to quickly establish their presence on the field," Stanton explained.
Other than the familiar East Carolina and Tulsa conference opponents, Marshall will face five of the new seven softball C-USA members – Charlotte, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee and North Texas.
"Another change we look forward to is competing against and learning about unfamiliar opponents in C-USA and building new rivalries within this great conference," Stanton added.
Of these five, the most recent opponent for the Thundering Herd is FAU – facing them twice in its first tournament of the 2013 season (USF-Demarini Tournament) and winning both contests (3-1, 2-1 (8)).
Marshall has never faced La Tech, but it holds a 5-4 record against Charlotte (2011), a 1-0 record versus FIU (1999), a 1-1 record against Middle Tennessee (2011) and a 1-0 record versus North Texas (2004).
Four Southeastern Conference contenders have been scheduled to play the Herd this year, one of which is its rival Kentucky, which Marshall will face at Dot Hicks Field on March 11, 2014.
The Herd will open the season in the Auburn tournament with a doubleheader on Valentine’s Day, facing Western Illinois and the host-team in Auburn, Ala.
Marshall will travel to Orlando, Fla. the following weekend to compete in the Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wideworld of Sports Complex. Marshall will face its second SEC team of the season on its first day of action, playing Georgia (NCAA Tempe, Ariz. Regional participant) after Houston Baptist. The Herd will play NC State, a NCAA Knoxville, Tenn. Regional qualifier, on its second day of the Citrus Classic.
The third weekend of the 2014 season will be spent in Conway, S.C. for the Coastal Carolina Invitational, where Marshall will take on two opponents it hasn’t faced in its 20 seasons – University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Saint Peter’s.
Before its fourth and final tournament of the season, Marshall will play FAU in its first conference action of the season and then compete in its home tournament, facing South Alabama (NCAA Mobile, Ala. Regional participant) and Michigan State.
The Herd will return home to for its home opener against Kentucky (NCAA Lexington, Ky. Regional host), and then face Tulsa for its first home-conference weekend.
UNC-Wilmington, an opponent the Herd hasn’t seen since 1999, will follow the Tulsa action before contesting conference foe ECU in Greenville, N.C.
Marshall will face Miami (Ohio) in a midweek contest, before traveling to Starkville, Miss. to face its fourth and final SEC contender Mississippi State (NCAA Mobile, Ala. Regional qualifier).
The Herd will go on to face several of its traditional midweek opponents – Radford, Northern Kentucky, Wright State and Ohio before conference weekends against – Middle Tennessee, North Texas, FIU and Charlotte, respectively.
Marshall will have no midweek games before its final conference and home weekend against La Tech, where seniors Savanah Webster (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Taylor Winton (Federal Way, Wash.) will play their last home game.
The team will travel back to Boca Raton, Fla. for the C-USA Tournament, May 9-11.
"Playing almost 40 games on the road can be a challenge for such a young squad, but one we welcome with the opportunity to compete in warmer weather late February to early March and beautiful facilities throughout the south," Stanton concluded.