HARRISONBURG, Va., Dec. 4, 2013 – Five spring tournaments, including one at Veterans Memorial Park, games against some of the nation’s top teams and a full 21-game Colonial Athletic Association slate await as the James Madison softball team announced its 2013 schedule on Tuesday.
The slate includes 19 home games, 21 road games and 17 neutral site matchups. The Dukes face seven teams that received votes in the final USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll, 25 teams that finished in the top 100 in the Ratings Percent Index (RPI) and 17 games versus teams that participated in the NCAA tournament a year ago.
“Our preseason schedule is extremely challenging,” first-year head coach Mickey Dean said. “We’ll play 17 games against teams that made NCAA tournament play in 2012. We have put together a schedule that has us competing against both regionally and nationally ranked opponents. We feel our schedule is one that will challenge us in different styles of play and prepare us to compete for a CAA championship and put us in position for postseason play.”
JMU is away from home for its first 22 games, with five games being true road contests and 17 coming at neutral sites. The season opens up Feb. 15-17 in Charleston, S.C., at the Cougar Classic. Madison faces the College of Charleston, Akron, East Tennessee State, Syracuse and conference-rival Towson in the three day tournament.
The following weekend, the Dukes face an incredibly challenging slate of games at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla. Three of their opponents, DePaul, Louisiana-Lafayette and South Florida, competed in the NCAA Regionals in 2012, with South Florida advancing all the way to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. The other two opponents, UC Davis and Indiana both finished in the top 133 of the RPI.
March opens up with JMU at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., facing Pittsburgh, the College of Charleston, Michigan, Illinois State and Penn State. The Dukes close out their road tournaments March 8-10 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the Chanticleer Classic where they face Middle Tennessee State and Coastal Carolina twice each and Georgetown once.
JMU finally returns home March 15-17 for the final tournament on its schedule, hosting the JMU Invitational at Veterans Memorial Park. Binghamton, Detroit and Fordham venture to Harrisonburg for the three-day event.
Other non-conference road contests for Madison include trips to Charlottesville, Va., Chapel Hill, N.C., and Knoxville, Tenn., for midweek doubleheaders against the major conference opponents. JMU faces Virginia on March 13, North Carolina on April 3 and Tennesse on April 24. Both UNC and UT played in the NCAA Regionals last season with UT advancing all the way to the World Sereis.
Another ACC school, Virginia Tech, highlights the home non-conference games. The Dukes host the Hokies on April 10 in a doubleheader, while also welcoming Princeton (March 20) and Liberty (April 17) to Veterans Memorial Park for doubleheaders.
The CAA schedule gets started on Saturday, March 23 with a three-game set at Towson. JMU also travels to UNCW (April 6-7), Delaware (April 20-21) and Hofstra (April 27-28) in conference play. Drexel (March 29-30), George Mason (April 13-14) and Georgia State (May 3-4) all make the trip to Harrisonburg in CAA play.
The Dukes are coming of a 30-26 campaign in 2012. They finished second in the CAA with a 15-5 record and advanced to the CAA semifinals.
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