FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University softball team has announced the 2010 schedule. Head Coach David Deiros and the Eagles, coming off a 47-win season and a second place finish in the conference, will play a solid non-conference schedule before diving into the Atlantic Sun Conference slate.
"Our short-term goal in non-conference scheduling is always to test our team's mettle and character by playing against the very best competition in the country," said Deiros. "We are facing many opponents from the "Big Six" conferences and national tournament qualifiers, which will prepare us for another run at an Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. Our long-term goal, since we have a very young team this season, is to battle-test our team so they become familiar and comfortable with a playoff atmosphere. We want to be ready in 2012 when we get a chance to compete for championships."
The Eagles again take on a challenging slate as they face seven opponents who made the NCAA Tournament including Ohio State, a perennial top-25 program. The Eagles face the Buckeyes as a part of USF’s Tournament from March 19-21. The Eagles will take on five foes from the Big-Ten, three from the Big East, a pair from the ACC, and Oklahoma State from the Big-12.
The Eagles open the year with three straight tournaments including their only home tournament of the season. FGCU opens the season at the USF/Best Western Tournament from Feb. 12-14. The Eagles will face Canisius, East Carolina, Illinois State, Long Island, and Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets finished the 2009 season with a 46-15 overall record (17-3 ACC) and the ACC Championship. Georgia Tech, who ranked No. 13 in the final USA Today/NFCA rankings, swept the NCAA Atlanta Regional by defeating Auburn, Boston University and Iowa, before falling to eventual national champion Washington in the NCAA Atlanta Super Regional.
The following week, the Eagles will travel to the FIU Blue and Gold Felsburg Memorial Tournament. Wisconsin, Bethune-Cookman, Long Island and FIU will be the opponents for FGCU in the event. LIU was the 2009 Northeast Conference Runner-Up and return Bianca Mejia, a 2009 Second Team Easton All-American.
The Eagles then host their annual spring break tournament from Feb. 25-28. The tournament field will include Georgia Southern, Minnesota, Connecticut, Villanova, St. Francis (Pa.) and Eastern Michigan. The UConn Huskies finished the 2009 season with a 29-21 overall and fell 4-0 to No. 17/18 Louisville in the Big East Tournament.
A home doubleheader with Eastern Michigan and a single game at the FGCU Softball Complex against the Broncos of Western Michigan precedes three more tournaments, all hosted by USF. The Eagles will face Penn State, Fordham, Austin Peay, Villanova and St. Joseph’s in their second tourney at USF (March 5-7).
FGCU will open Atlantic Sun Conference play on March 10 at home with a doubleheader against Kennesaw State.
The Blue and Green will then participate in two more USF tournaments, with a single game against Drake at the FGCU Softball Complex separating the two. The March 12-14 tournament at USF includes games against James Madison, New Mexico State, Central Michigan, Long Island and tourney host USF. The Eagles currently lead the all-time series with the Bulls 2-1, with USF winning the last meeting 4-3 on Feb. 8, 2009.
The fourth and final tournament at USF (March 19-21) will put the Eagles against four opponents from BCS conferences. The Blue and Green will open up with a matchup with Maryland, before facing Illinois, Oklahoma State, Northern Illinois and Ohio State. The Cowgirls of Oklahoma State fell to Missouri in the Big 12 Championship, 10-0, but received an at-large bid to the Tallahassee, Fla. Regional (lost to California in Region Final, 2-1). The Buckeyes from Ohio State, who finished the 2009 season ranked No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Softball Poll, swept the Columbus, Ohio Regional before falling to Georgia in the Super Regional.
Following the final USF Tournament, FGCU will host Dartmouth in doubleheader action before diving into the bulk of the A-Sun Conference slate. The Atlantic Sun had one of the best years in league history, as the league finished 10th in the RPI. The Eagles get Jacksonville, North Florida, Campbell and Mercer at home. They go on the road to face USC Upstate, ETSU, Stetson, Belmont and Lipscomb. The home schedule includes 21 games this season.
Last year, the Eagles were 47-9 overall (15-5 A-Sun) and 22-2 at home during their second season as a Division I program. The Eagles return four starters and two of their top pitchers.