BALTIMORE – UMBC Softball Head Coach Joe French has announced the Retrievers' schedule for the 2016 season which features six tournaments to start the campaign, including four on UMBC's home field.
"This is a very exciting and challenging schedule, especially early in the year," said French. "It is our hope that these tough non-league tournaments and non-conference games will prepare us for America East Conference play and hopefully the America East Championships."
The Retrievers open the year with back-to-back road tournaments, starting with four games at the Grand Canyon University Kickoff Tournament on Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13. UMBC will take on Loyola Marymount and the host Antelopes in two games apiece. The Dawgs then hit the road for a tough five-game slate at the Alabama State Black & Gold Tournament Feb. 19-21, where they will square off against Middle Tennessee twice, Alabama State twice and Nicholls State.
The Retrievers return home for its first of four tournaments when it hosts the UMBC Kickoff Tournament on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28. The Dawgs will play two games apiece against UMES and Lafayette at the UMBC Softball Stadium. The Retrievers travel to Towson in a single game on Tuesday, March 1 before getting set to host the 12th Annual UMBC Retriever Classic (March 5-6), where UMBC will battle Rhode Island and Fairleigh Dickinson in doubleheaders.
The Black and Gold continues home action in a midweek doubleheader against Howard (March 9) and follows with a six-team tournament in the UMBC Dawg Pound Invitational (March 11-13). The Retrievers will face off against Lafayette, Marist, Mount St. Mary's and Coppin State throughout the weekend.
UMBC hits the road to Virginia to start out its Spring Break week with a doubleheader matchup at Norfolk State on Tuesday, March 15, followed by a meeting at Hampton on Wednesday, March 16. The Retrievers close out the week with their final home tournament of the season, the UMBC Spring Classic, with contests versus Siena (March 18 and March 19), La Salle (March 19) and Sacred Heart (March 20).
The Dawgs open America East play at home with a three-game series versus Stony Brook (March 25-26). The Retrievers close out the month at UMBC Softball Stadium with a single game against Coppin State on Tuesday, March 29, followed by a doubleheader versus Brown on Wednesday, March 30.
UMBC travels for three sets of three-game series against Binghamton (April 2-3), Hartford (April 16-17) and Maine (May 6-7). In addition to hosting Stony Brook, the Retrievers host America East foes Albany (April 9-10), and UMass Lowell (April 30 and May 1). The Dawgs also host Morgan State (April 6), UMES (doubleheader on April 13) and Lehigh (doubleheader on April 23) in non-conference action during the final month of the season.
The America East Championships are set for May 12-14, with all games to be hosted by the highest seed.
In 2015, the UMBC softball team saw great production from both its veterans and rookies on the field, in the circle and from the dish. The Retrievers' offense posted its highest batting average since 2007 (.289) and highest on-base percentage since 2006 (.378). In the circle, UMBC's pitching staff held opponents to the program's lowest hit total since 2010 (382) and recorded 198 strikeouts, the most since 2012. The Retrievers finished the year with a 22-27 overall record and an 8-9 mark in America East play.