JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University softball Head Coach Ali Higgs announced the 2014 schedule. The Dolphins will play 33 home matches and participate in four tournaments, including its JU Tournament.
“I am really excited to play such a strong schedule this year,” said Higgs. “This is definitely the most challenging and difficult schedule that a JU softball team has faced since its inaugural season in 2003.
“I think that in order to best prepare for our conference schedule, we have to play the toughest competition we can in February. We need to be tested early on and with this pre-season, facing four teams that finished in the Top 25 and eight teams that finished with a Top 50 RPI last year, I think it will do just that.”
Jacksonville will compete against eight teams that played in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including 2012 National Champions Alabama.
The Fins will begin their season with a road trip to FIU in Miami, Feb. 7-9, for the Felsberg Memorial Tournament, featuring DePaul, Maryland and host FIU.
They will then travel to 2013 Women's College World Series participant Florida for a mid-week game on Feb. 12 before hosting the first weekend of their JU Tournament, Feb. 14-16. The Fins will play against Louisville, Missouri, North Carolina and Notre Dame, all teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last season.
“To be the best, we have to play the best,” said Higgs. “Bringing teams like Missouri, Alabama and Louisville here to JU will be an amazing experience, not only for our players, but for our fans and our Jacksonville softball community.”
The following weekend the Dolphins will host their second JU Tournament, Feb. 21-23, with six games against the University of Illinois Chicago, Mount St. Mary’s, Southern Illinois, Savannah State and Bethune-Cookman.
Jacksonville will play a double-header against Mount St. Mary’s on Feb. 26 before opening conference play in Spartenburg, S.C. with a three-game series at USC Upstate, March 1-2.
The Dolphins will play another mid-week round in Orlando at the UCF Round Robin against Boston College and the University of Central Florida on March 5 before returning to the JU Softball Complex March 8-9 to host their first conference three-game series of the season against Northern Kentucky. They will follow with a Wednesday double-header verses FIU on March 12.
The Fins will travel to Nashville, Tenn. March 15-16 to face Lipscomb before a home-stretch of six straight. They will welcome non-conference Marist for a double-header on March 19, Mercer for a series March 22-23, 2013 Women’s College World Series participant Alabama on March 25, and finish the time against Kennesaw State in a three-game series March 29-30.
Jacksonville will head down the highway April 5-6 to play a series at North Florida and follow by hosting non-conference FAMU on April 9 and A-Sun rival FGCU April 12-13.
The Fins will travel to Statesboro, Ga. for a mid-week non-conference game against NCAA participant Georgia Southern on April 16 before hosting ETSU in a weekend series April 18-19.
On April 23 the Dolphins will welcome non-conference Bethune-Cookman for a single match and will wrap up their regular-season with a three-game series in DeLand, Fla., against Stetson April 26-27.
“I am looking forward to seeing our team fight through this schedule and steal some wins from some big teams,” Higgs said.
“It is imperative that we be able to handle adversity and attack our competition, no matter who the opponent is. I think these tough pre-season opponents and our familiar conference rivals will cultivate that attitude.”