Dec. 9, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf recently announced the 2011 spring schedule, which includes fifteen home dates and trips to a pair of prestigious non-conference tournaments.
The Irish will face 10 participants from the 2010 NCAA Tournament - including World Series contestant Washington - and will scratch the dirt with four first-time opponents (UCF, Delaware, College of Charleston and Fordham).
"This is a very competitive yet balanced schedule," Gumpf said. "We certainly have the firepower in this team to compete well against the upcoming slate, which will provide great challenges from top to bottom.
"We also wanted to play in areas with strong ties to Notre Dame, as in the past we've been able to attract some huge crowds to watch our team compete. As opposed to settling for a regional non-conference schedule, our staff has worked hard to expose our players and program to several different areas of the nation."
Coming off a 47-12 campaign in 2010 while earning a share of the BIG EAST Conference regular-season title with an 18-3 league record, Notre Dame lifts the 2011 lid at the UCF Invitational (Feb. 18-20) in Orlando, Fla. UCF will also play host to Miami (Ohio), Illinois-Chicago and Delaware in the championship-format tournament.
Notre Dame stays in the southeast for the College of Charleston Invite (Feb. 26-27) while playing the host Cougars, Iowa State, Marist and Liberty.
Another trip to Florida comes one week later with the inaugural Disney Wide World of Sports Invite (March 4-6) in Kissimmee, which will showcase the bulk of the nation's premier collegiate softball programs. The Irish will face Longwood, North Carolina, Maryland, Alabama and Fordham in the Sunshine State.
An invitation to one of the nation's most recognized preseason showdowns (Judi Garman Classic) highlights a West Coast swing from March 13-19. Oklahoma, Cal State Fullerton, Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico, Washington and Michigan await the Irish for the event in Fullerton, Calif.
The first of six straight home games will be March 25 against Northern Illinois, followed by non-conference bouts with Western Michigan (March 29) and Purdue (March 31).
Notre Dame will play each of its home contests at Melissa Cook Stadium, a facility in which the Irish posted a flawless 19-0 record in 2010.
The BIG EAST portion of the schedule kicks off April 2-3 with a three-game series against Providence.
Midweek non-conference contests with Wisconsin (April 5), Butler (April 7), Bowling Green (April 12), Loyola-Chicago (April 13) and Eastern Michigan (April 19) will be scattered throughout the penultimate month of regular-season competition.
Notre Dame hits the road for three games at Syracuse (April 9-10) before beginning an eight-game homestand.
A third trip to Florida for an April 27 doubleheader at USF will be sandwiched by a pair of three-game series with Villanova (April 21-23) and St. John's (April 30-May 1).
The regular season concludes with a trio of games at Connecticut (May 7-8) before the BIG EAST Tournament (May 12-14), which will be held at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
NCAA Tournament action kicks off May 22 and spans all the way to the Women's College World Series (June 2-8) in Oklahoma City, Okla.