Lancers’ 2018 softball schedule unveiled

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A season after capturing its third consecutive Big South Championship — and fourth in five years — en route to a second straight NCAA Regional Final appearance, the Longwood University softball team will play 18 regular season games against teams that finished among the top 100 of the 2017 softball RPI rankings on the schedule recently unveiled by two-time Big South Coach of the Year Kathy Riley.

Highlighting the 2018 schedule are a pair of tournaments in Hawaii, along with five Power Five opponents and a home-heavy second half of the schedule that will make up 22 of the final 33 games at Lancer Field.

The Lancers will take on five teams from Power Five conferences — four from the ACC and one from the PAC-12. For the fifth consecutive year, Longwood will play the University of North Carolina, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, while also facing a Duke University squad that will be in its first season of softball in program history. In addition, the Lancers will play PAC-12 powerhouse University of California, which finished last season 23rd in the final RPI rankings.

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Longwood’s non-conference opponents combined for more than 550 wins a season ago with 12 of those teams finishing with a record of .500 or better. In addition, the Lancers will play six games against five different teams that made the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The Lancers will play their first 21 games of the season away from Lancer Field in four different tournaments that will take the team to College of Charleston, in South Carolina, the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Hawaii.

“The non-conference schedule is all about offering different challenges and the addition of DePaul, College of Charleston, Elon, UNCW, Hawaii and Cal will all give us the opportunity to face competition at a high level,” said Longwood Head Coach Kathy Riley. “We enjoy the different teams because each coach has their own philosophy that will make us adjust our in-game approach more quickly.”

Across two Hawaii-based tournaments, March 1-4 and March 7-10, the Lancers will face Colonial Athletic Association powerhouse James Madison University, along with PAC-12 power California and 2017 NCAA Tournament participant Brigham Young University.

Longwood opens the season with a five-game run in a tournament at College of Charleston, Feb. 16-18, first facing 2017 Big East Tournament champion DePaul University on Feb. 16. The Lancers will also have a pair of games against Northern Illinois University, as well as host College of Charleston and Iona University.

Following its trip from Hawaii, Longwood will open its 21 games at Lancer Field with conference play against commonwealth rival Radford University on March 17. That series will mark the beginning of a stretch that sees Longwood close the regular season with 21 of its final 32 games on its home field.

“We have been fortunate to develop a loyal fan base, and this year should be the most exciting to date in having Longwood crowds root on their hometown team,” Riley said.

The Lancers will look to earn their fourth straight Big South Championship, as the tournament will be played May 9-12 at Radford.