Challenging schedule awaits Lancers softball

Published 6:59 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

If iron sharpens iron, Longwood softball can expect to be razor sharp after facing a the challenging 2022 schedule laid out by head coach Megan Brown.

High-level opponents fill the schedule, as 11 of the team’s on Longwood’s slate made it to the NCAA Tournament last year. Four of them advanced to the NCAA Super Regional, with James Madison and Georgia going all the way to the Women’s College World Series.

Ten of the teams finished inside the top 50 in RPI last season, with Arkansas (eighth), JMU (11th), Georgia (13th), Virginia Tech (16th) and Wichita State (23rd) all ranking inside the top 25. Plus, the Lancers play nine Power 5 schools.

That gauntlet begins with more than a month on the road, as Longwood opens the season with four multi-team tournaments on the first four weekends. To open the season, the Lancers head to the Black & Gold Classic hosted by Central Florida, 32nd in RPI, NCAA Regional in 2021, from Friday, Feb. 11 to Sunday, Feb. 13. All four opponents that weekend — Fresno State, Georgia, Minnesota and Central Florida — advanced to regionals or beyond last season.

The next weekend, the Lancers head to the Razorback Invitational, Friday, Feb. 18-Sunday, Feb. 20, in Fayetteville, Arkansas for five games against Wichita State, 23rd in RPI, NCAA Regional in 2021, Western Illinois, Illinois and the host Arkansas Razorbacks, eighth in RPI, NCAA Super Regional in 2021.

The team closes out the month at The Snowman, hosted by Mississippi State. In Starkville, the Lancers will play South Alabama, 39th in RPI, NCAA Regional in 2021, Belmont and Mississippi State, 28th in RPI, NCAA Regional in 2021.

The Lancers open March in Birmingham, Alabama at the Green and Gold Classic hosted by UAB, from Friday, March 4-Sunday, March 6. During those three days, Longwood will take on the hosts three times while squaring off with Harvard twice.

Big South play opens up the following weekend, with Longwood taking back-to-back trips to South Carolina. First, the Lancers head to Spartanburg to take on USC Upstate, Friday, March 11-Saturday, March 12, before heading back the following weekend to Charleston for a three-game series against Charleston Southern, Friday, March 18-Saturday, March 19.

Longwood heads back to Farmville for a high-profile matchup with Virginia Tech, 16th in RPI, NCAA Super Regional in 2021, that also serves as the team’s home opener on Tuesday, March 22. That doubleheader kicks off five straight at home, with the Lancers also hosting ACC foe North Carolina the following day. Longwood rounds out the week with a three-game series against North Carolina A&T, Saturday, March 26-Sunday, March 27.

From that point on, Longwood hits the road for five straight with trips to Virginia, Tuesday, March 29, Hampton, Saturday, April 2-Sunday, April 3 and N.C. State, Wednesday, April 6.

The Lancers come back home to host back-to-back Big South foes in Radford, Saturday, April 9-Sunday, April 10, and Presbyterian, Saturday, April 16-Sunday, April 17. After a midweek trip to George Mason, Wednesday, April 20 and a trip to Campbell, Saturday, April 23-Sunday, April 24, Longwood pops home for a midweek game against Virginia, Tuesday, April 26, their 12th and final game against a Power 5 school.

Longwood closes its non-conference slate the following day at James Madison, Wednesday, April 27, before wrapping up the regular season with six straight Big South games at home. First, the Lancers host Gardner-Webb, Saturday, April 30-Sunday, May 1, before taking on Winthrop, Saturday, May 7-Sunday, May 8.

The Lancers return eight position players and three pitchers from last season’s team that advanced to the Big South Tournament.