Softball | 11/16/2017 3:47:00 PM
Seven new opponents, seven NCAA tournament teams from 2017 and a bigger home tournament are just a few of the highlights from the 2018 Murray State softball schedule that was announced by head coach Kara Amundson
"Each year we work to ensure we have a competitive schedule for tournaments, mid-week games, and of course the OVC conference schedule and this year is no different. We will be tested early in the season by multiple teams that have a rich history of competing in the NCAA tournament. We are a young team and I am really excited to see what we bring to the table early on. I'm confident our schedule in February and early March will help prepare us to work to compete for an OVC title."
The Racers will get to test their skills against seven new opponents this year including Drake, Northern Colorado, Oakland, Radford, Rhode Island, Troy and UMKC. Murray State will also get several early opportunities to see how they stack up against teams that played in the NCAA tournament a year ago when they take on Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Jacksonville State, Kent State, ETSU, Mississippi State and Southern Illinois.
After a highly successful first year for the home Racer Classic, Amundson expanded the event from four teams and 10 games to six teams and 14 games. Teams included in this year's tournament, which runs March 9-11, are Evansville, Illinois-Chicago, Kent State, Oakland and Rhode Island.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Racers will begin their season in the Peach State at the 2018 Eagle Round Robin Invitational Feb. 9-11 hosted by Georgia Southern. While in Statesboro, the Racers will take on ETSU, Radford and the host Eagles. From there, MSU will travel to the land of the cowbell for the 2018 February Freezer hosted by Mississippi State. During their time at the Starkville event, which runs Feb. 16-18, Murray State will face-off with the host Bulldogs, Drake and South Alabama.
The last weekend in February will see Murray State travel to lower Alabama for the 2018 Troy Classic. Both Troy, the city, and Troy, the school, will play host to the Racers from Feb. 23-25 where they will take on the host Trojans, UAB and Tennessee Tech. On March 2-4, MSU will take part in Southern Illinois' Coach B Classic for the second year in a row with games against Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Illinois in a round robin/tournament format.
After hosting the inaugural Racer Classic March 9-11, the Racers will head west for spring break where they will take part in Kansas' 2018 Rock Chalk Challenge, March 16-18. During its time in Lawrence, MSU will play Northern Colorado, the host Jayhawks, Western Illinois, UMKC and Saint Louis. Before beginning conference play the following weekend at Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State, the Racers will stop on the way home from Kansas in St. Louis on March 20 for another game with the Billikens.
Other highlights of MSU's 2017 slate include the March 30 home OVC opener with reigning league champs Jacksonville State, an April 4 mid-week against Western Kentucky at Racer Field, a home doubleheader against rival UT Martin on April 7 and a pair of Heritage Bank Battle of the Border games and senior day at home against Austin Peay on May 4.