BALTIMORE – UMBC Softball Head Coach Joe French released the Retrievers' 2015 schedule, which features six straight tournaments to open the season, which is slated to start on Feb. 6. UMBC will go back to hosting its three annual tournaments, beginning with the 11th Annual UMBC Retriever Classic on Feb. 27-March 1.
"We are starting our schedule the earliest we've ever started, in addition to starting on the road against some tough opponents, which makes this schedule a tough one," said French. "We are challenged right out of the gate, which I think is good in preparing us for conference play, by playing on the road against some bigger schools. I definitely think that we have an exciting and challenging schedule ahead of us and we are anxious to get going."
The Retrievers play their first 13 games of the season on the road, starting with a four-game trip at Charleston Southern's tournament on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, where they will square off against the host Buccaneers twice, as well as matchups against Southern Illinois and Ohio State. UMBC travels to UNC-Wilmington's tournament for the third consecutive season on Feb. 13-15 for games against Georgetown, Saint Joseph's (two) and the host Seahawks (two).
Before hosting their three tournaments, the Retrievers will make a return trip to North Carolina, traveling to Elon (Feb. 20-21) for matchups against Youngstown State (two), La Salle and the host Phoenix. The Dawgs will welcome Fairleigh Dickinson, Bucknell and Cornell for the 11th Annual UMBC Retriever Classic. A pair of midweek single-games against Morgan State (March 3) and Mount St. Mary's (March 4) sets the stage for the 13th Annual UMBC Dawg Pound Invitational (March 6-8), where Drexel, UMES and Lafayette will make the trip to Baltimore.
The 14th Annual UMBC Spring Classic provides the Retrievers with matchups against Sacred Heart and Rhode Island (March 13-15), followed by a midweek doubleheader versus Lafayette at the UMBC Softball Stadium.
The Dawgs open America East at home in back-to-back weekends, beginning with a three-game series against Maine on April 20-21. A midweek doubleheader versus UMES (April 25) is followed by a three-game conference matchup against Hartford (March 28-29). A midweek clash with George Washington concludes a 26-game home stretch for the Retrievers on April 1.
The Retrievers hit the road for the first time in a month when they travel for a three-game series against UMass Lowell on Easter weekend. UMBC continues road action with three games versus Albany (April 11-12) and two against La Salle (April 15).
The black and gold will fill their AEC bye week with a doubleheader against Lehigh (April 18) and will welcome local rival Towson to the UMBC Softball Stadium on April 23. The Retrievers are slated to celebrate their Senior Day in their weekend matchup against Binghamton on April 25-26, before playing their final four games on the road at Mount St. Mary's (April 28) and Stony Brook (May 1-2).
The America East Championships are set for May 7-9, with all games to be hosted by the highest seed.
In 2014, UMBC posted its highest win total since 2009 (31-22) and registered a 20-win improvement from 2013. The Retrievers, who had won two conference games in the previous two seasons combined, tabbed an 8-9 record in league play to make their return to the America East Championships for the first time since 2011 and the sixth time overall. French, who celebrated his 800th career coaching victory and 600th career softball coaching victory last season, returns two of his three All-Conference selections and a pair of All-Rookie Team honorees.