FORT MYERS, Fla. – FGCU head softball coach David Deiros unveiled the Eagles’ 2011 softball schedule Friday afternoon. Six spring tournaments with visits by seven opponents from BCS schools, as well as dates with 2010 Women’s College World Series (WCWS) participant Florida highlight the 2011 lineup.
The Eagles’ competitive 2011 schedule features seven teams that played in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and three opponents who finished in the Top 25 last season – Florida(No. 6), Arizona State (No. 12) and Oklahoma State (No. 23). FGCU faces a total of 14 schools from BCS conferences that include teams from the BIG EAST, Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Pac-10 and Big 12. The 2011 slate also features 24 teams that landed in the top 100 RPI.
"We look forward to playing a very challenging schedule again this season,” said Deiros. “Our conference continues to be one of the better ones in the country in softball. Our home slate is strong with several BCS conference opponents coming to Fort Myers. We play 2010 World Series participant Florida and 2008 National Champion Arizona State so we will get a true measure of how good our very young team will be."
Like it has in each of its first three seasons in Division I, FGCU opens its season on the road at a USF-hosted tournament in Tampa, Fla. The Eagles play a five-game stint from Feb. 11-13 and will face N.C. State (Feb. 11), Florida (Feb. 11), Marshall (Feb. 12), USF (Feb. 12) and Long Island (Feb. 13) during the three-day span. Last year, the Eagles topped Long Island, 7-2, in the USF’s tournament before the Blackbirds went on to the NCAA Tournament. Florida is coming off of its third-consecutive WCWS appearance after also garnering a top-five seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year in 2010.
The Blue and Green travel back to Fort Myers to open their home schedule with back-to-back tournaments. BIG EAST opponents Georgetown (Feb. 18) and Villanova (Feb. 20), as well as Big Ten member Michigan State (Feb. 18), the Atlantic 10’s Saint Louis (Feb. 19) and SEC foe South Carolina (Feb. 19) travel south to take part in the tournament from Feb. 18-20. FGCU then welcomes Iowa (Feb. 25), 2010 Missouri Valley Conference Champion Southern Illinois (Feb. 26), Albany (Feb. 27) and St. Francis – PA (Feb. 27) to the FGCU Softball Complex.
The Eagles take on the Eagles of Eastern Michigan in a mid-week tilt March 2 before hosting their third tournament of the season. FGCU faces St. Francis – PA and Tennessee Martin, the regular season Ohio Valley Champions, on March 4 before taking on Colgate and Dartmouth on March 5. The Eagles close out their home tournament schedule against St. John's on March 6.
FGCU heads out west to play Arizona State on March 9 before playing in its Diamond Devil Tournament from March 10-12. Arizona State finished at No. 12 in the Top 25 poll to end the 2010 season and played in the NCAA Super Regional. Besides playing the Sun Devils (Mar. 10), the Eagles will also play Creighton (Mar. 10), Virginia Tech (Mar. 11), Howard (Mar. 11) and Weber State (Mar. 12) in Tempe, Ariz. Creighton was also an NCAA participant after posting a 37-23 overall record and winning the MVC Tournament.
The Eagles head back to the friendly confines of the FGCU Softball Complex to host a round robin event with Buffalo and Purdue. The two teams will play each other in the opening game before they each face off against on FGCU on March 16.
FGCU travels to its final tournament of the season when it participates in The Game tournament hosted by USF at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. from March 18-20. The Eagles open the tournament against Winthrop and Dartmouth on Friday, March 18 before playing NCAA Regional participant Oklahoma State and Quinnipiac on Saturday. FGCU wraps up in Clearwater against the MAC runner-up Kent State on Sunday, March 20.
The Eagles open their A-Sun schedule on the road at Campbell (March 26) before hosting their final non-conference doubleheader at home against in-state rival and NCAA participant FIU on March 30. FGCU takes to the road again for its second and third straight A-Sun doubleheaders, traveling to Georgia to face rivals Mercer (April 2) and Kennesaw State (April 3).
FGCU hosts its next four A-Sun series, playing USC Upstate on April 7 and ETSU on April 9. Defending A-Sun Champion Lipscomb comes to Fort Myers on April 14 and the Eagles host Belmont on April 16 for Senior Day. Lipscomb won the league's regular season and A-Sun Tournament last season and won a pair of games in the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 1 Alabama.
A pair of A-Sun games in Jacksonville wrap up the Blue and Green’s road schedule when they play Jacksonville (April 18) and UNF (April 19). FGCU closes its season at home for the third consecutive year, playing host to in-state rival Stetson on Friday, April 22.
The 2011 squad features a class of nine newcomers and welcomes back 13 players from a squad that finished 12-8 in the conference for third place and posted a 24-28 overall record. Among the returners are senior Courtney Platt (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) who picked up All-Conference second team honors and sophomores Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers) and Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla./Lake Wales) who were named to the All-Freshmen Team.
For the fourth and final year, FGCU is not eligible to participate in postseason play due to NCAA reclassifying rules. The Eagles will be fully eligible in 2012.