BALTIMORE – UMBC softball head coach Joe French unveiled the Retrievers' 2014 schedule, which features five tournaments, including a pair of tournaments hosted by the black and gold during March.
"We have a very challenging early season, with three tournaments and our first 17 games away from UMBC," French said.
"With the winter that we have been having, we may not be on the infield dirt until our first game.
"We are playing a variety of teams from different conferences to prepare us for our touch and challenging America East schedule, in addition to playing numerous local rivals," continued French.
The Retrievers open competition with five contests at the UNC-Wilmington Tournament (Feb. 14-16), where they will square off in a pair of games against the host Seahawks and Norfolk State, as well as a single matchup versus Liberty. UMBC follows with a midweek contest at George Mason on Tuesday, Feb. 18, before heading back to North Carolina for games against Niagara, Iona (two games) and host Elon on Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22.
The black and gold travel for a single game at Coppin State on Wednesday, Feb. 26 and continue on the road two days later at the Norfolk State Tournament (Feb. 28-March 1), which features the host Spartans, as well as Delaware and Monmouth.
In the first week of March, UMBC travels to George Washington (March 4) and hosts Buffalo (March 6) and UMES (March 7). The Retrievers matchup for a doubleheader with UMES for the second time in two days on March 9, in addition to traveling to another in-state rival, Towson, on March 12.
The black and gold welcome seven teams over two weekends to the UMBC Softball Stadium for a pair of tournaments. The 10th Annual UMBC Dawg Pound Invitational (March 14-16) plants the Retrievers against four different opponents, in Drexel, Rhode Island, Niagara and Hampton. The following weekend the black and gold welcome Bowling Green, Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary's for the 11th Annual UMBC Spring Classic (March 21-23).
The Retrievers open America East play at the UMBC Softball Stadium when they welcome Stony Brook to town. The three-game series is followed by a doubleheader at Howard on Wednesday, April 2 and a three-game series at Binghamton (April 5-6).
The Retrievers host Georgetown (April 9) midweek and then take on America East opponents in back-to-back weekends, starting with a trip to Maine (April 12) and following with a matchup against conference newcomer UMass Lowell on Easter weekend (April 18-19). The black-and-gold battle La Salle in a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 22 and jump back on the road for the final time in a three-game series at Hartford (April 26-27).
UMBC closes out the regular season with a single game against Coppin State (April 30) and a three-game series versus Albany (May 2-3). The America East Conference Championships are set for Saturday, May 8-10, with all games to be hosted by the highest seed.
French is back for his 13th season at the helm of the Retrievers and adds nine newcomers to his 12 returning letterwinners from a year ago. Junior catcher Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cosby) and sophomore utility player Danielle O'Neill (Loathian, Md./Southern) each return after garnering postseason recognition from the America East last season, with Hall earning All-Conference First Team distinctions and O'Neill being named to the Second Team.