CHARLESTON, S.C. - With three home tournaments, tournaments at UCLA and College of Charleston, and home conference clashes against Radford, Longwood, Campbell and Presbyterian highlighting the way, CSU head softball coach Shane Winkler announced the 2016 schedule on Wednesday afternoon.
The Bucs roster features a young, but experienced roster led by senior Natalie Yonan, as well as All-Conference selections Amanda Matsumoto and Cheyenne Gandara, as well as All-Tournament selection Stephanie Bergmann. Seven newcomers will also battle for playing time this season, which has Winkler excited about the upcoming year.
""I believe we have one of the most talented and deepest rosters we've ever had here at CSU this year," said Winkler. "We return 13 players that saw significant playing time last year and have added a few freshmen that will make a major impact so I'm looking forward to seeing this team continue to get better throughout the season. We are going to test them in a big way as we'll play teams from 4 of the 5 Power 5 Conferences which will only prepare us for what will be a challenging Big South schedule."
The CSU Softball Field will be home to three different tournament weekends this season with home field proving to be a significant advantage for the Bucs. CSU went 22-11 at home in the 2015 season and have 29 games scheduled in front of their home crowd this season.
"It's such an advantage getting to play so many games at home throughout the season," Winkler said. "Our kids get to stay in class while being comfortable playing in the friendly confines of Buccaneer Field. It's always exciting to bring quality opponents to Charleston to play in front of our home crowd."
The Bucs open their first three weekends with home tournaments featuring a diverse field. The opening weekend tournament slate on February 12-13 features Towson, Georgetown, IPFW and CSU. The second weekend covers February 19-21 with Boston, Western Carolina and N.C. A&T all coming to Charleston. The third weekend, February 26-28, closes out CSU's home tournament stand and features Savannah State, Delaware State and UT Arlington.
Also coming to CSU in February is College of Charleston with the Bucs hosting their local rival on February 24 in a single game at the CSU Softball Field.
The Bucs make their annual trip to the West Coast to open the month of March as CSU travels to UCLA for the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament on March 4-6. CSU will take on UC Santa Barbara (twice), UC Davis, UCLA and Syracuse over the three day weekend.
The Bucs close out their West Coast swing on March 8 with a single game at Cal State Northridge.
""With 10 players from California on the roster, we look forward to our trip to Southern California every year," Winkler commented. "It doesn't get any better than getting to play at UCLA which is an historic venue against a team that has a great chance of making the World Series again this year in addition to other West Coast teams that will challenge our kids."
CSU returns to Charleston, S.C. for their final tournament before entering the bulk of their regular season traveling to Patriots Point and College of Charleston for the Holy City Showdown on March 11-13. The Bucs will take on Michigan State, Georgia (twice), UT Chattanooga, and Columbia over the three day stretch.
The Bucs return home on March 15-16 for home games against Columbia and Syracuse before opening Big South play on March 19-20 with a three-game series against Radford. Following a midweek road trip to South Carolina the following week, CSU closes out March with a three-game conference series against Longwood on March 25-26.
A road trip to Gardner-Webb (April 2-3) opens up the month of April for the Bucs. CSU returns home to face Campbell (April 9-10), before embarking on their longest road trip of the season as the Bucs close out the month with 11 straight games away from home. CSU travels to Coastal Carolina (April 13), Winthrop (April 16-17), CofC (April 20), Liberty (April 23-24) and back to Coastal Carolina (April 26) during the span.
The Bucs return home on May 7-8 hosting Presbyterian for Senior Weekend in their final games before the Big South Tournament.
The 2016 Big South Softball Championships will be held from May 11-14 in Rock Hill, S.C. at the WU Softball Complex.