Jan. 3, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Boilermaker softball team will be tested throughout the 2014 season as it faces off with 14 teams that appeared in the 2013 NCAA Regionals, including five that were ranked in the final Top 25 poll of the season.
Purdue's experienced roster, which includes seven starters from the 2013 squad, will face College World Series participants in No. 3 Texas and No. 6 Michigan, as well as Super Regional competitors in No. 10 Alabama and No. 15 Florida State. No. 20 Baylor, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Jacksonville State, Houston, Georgia, Central Michigan, Marist, Wisconsin and Minnesota also made the postseason a year ago.
The Boilermakers kick off the Kim Schuette era at the Louisiana Classic in Lafayette, La., Feb. 8-9. The team will face off with North Carolina, Northern Iowa and Texas at the event. North Carolina is coming off a 40-20 season, including a third-place ACC finish and a regional berth. UNI went 27-25, including a 13-8 finish in the Missouri Valley Conference and a regional appearance. Day 2 of the tournament will pit the Boilers against No. 3 Texas, which posted a 51-10 mark, including a second place Big 12 finish and a WCWS berth.
Purdue will travel to Conway, S.C., for the Kickin' Chicken Classic, Feb. 14-16, where LaSalle, Syracuse, Coastal Carolina and Towson are on the slate. LaSalle is looking to rebound from a 16-31 finish a year ago, while Syracuse is hoping to improve on a 23-29 effort. Coastal Carolina went 37-22 and finished first in the Big South Conference regular season race. Towson is coming off a 30-28-1 season including a fifth place finish in Colonial Athletic Association.
Back-to-back trips to the state of Alabama will round out the month of February. First up, the Boilermakers will head to Auburn to face Samford, Jacksonville State, Mississippi Valley State and the host Tigers, at the Wilson/DeMarini Classic Feb. 22-23. Samford posted a 17-35 record in 2013, while Jacksonville State went 30-27 and advanced to the NCAA Regionals after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title. MVSU went 25-32 including a second place finish in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, while Auburn was 30-23 including a sixth-place West Division finish in the Southeastern Conference.
On Feb. 28, the Boilermakers will begin a five-game slate at the Easton Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Purdue will face No. 15 Florida State and Houston twice and the host Crimson Tide once at the event. FSU went 44-19 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference title en route to a Super Regional appearance. Houston posted a 41-20 mark and went 19-5 in Conference USA play, falling in the tournament finale before advancing to NCAA Regionals. No. 10 Alabama managed a 45-15 record and 13-11 mark in Southeastern Conference play before advancing to Super Regionals.
Purdue will then head to Athens, Ga., for the Georgia Softball Classic, where the team will take on Tennessee Tech and host Georgia twice as well as Kent State. TTU is coming off a 22-28 season, which saw the Golden Eagles finish tied for second in the Ohio Valley Conference east division. Kent State posted a 27-21-1 mark, including a first place finish in the Mid-American Conference eastern division. Georgia, which received votes in the final poll of 2013, went 40-21 including a fourth-place finish in the Southeastern Conference east division and an NCAA Regional berth.
The Boilermakers wrap up the non-conference tournament season with a spring break trip to Clearwater, Fla., for the USF Invitational. Purdue will take on Central Michigan, Bryant, Quinnipiac, No. 20 Baylor and Long Island at the event, March 14-16. CMU is coming off a Regional appearance after finishing 33-20 and winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament title. Bryant (21-22), Quinnipiac (16-34) and LIU (19-38) are looking to improve on their 2013 efforts, while Baylor went 42-17 and finished third in the Big 12 before advancing to the Regionals.
Purdue will play a pair of midweek games in Orlando before returning home to start conference play. The Boilermakers are set to face Marist and UCF in a March 18 doubleheader. Marist earned an NCAA Regional berth after posting a 30-26 mark and winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. UCF went 29-25 in 2013, including a sixth-place finish in Conference USA play.
Big Ten play begins on March 21 as the Boilers head to Penn State for the first of seven three-game sets. Purdue will face Penn State, Michigan State, Indiana, Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota in three-game series and also take on No. 6 Michigan in an April 23 doubleheader. The series with Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota will take place at the Boilermaker Softball Complex.
Purdue is slated for one non-conference game after the start of Big Ten play, the March 26 home opener against Illinois-Chicago. UIC posted a 23-25 overall record and went 16-5 in Horizon League play in 2013, including the league's regular season title.
The Boilermakers will look to build on last year's 23-32 mark with a roster of 17 returning letterwinners, including seven seniors and seven position starters. Five newcomers round out the 2014 team, which is in its first year under head coach Kim Schuette.