Nashville--The Tennessee State University softball schedule has been released by head coach Jeff Dabney. The Tigers have an aggressive schedule making trips to three Southeastern Conference venues. While the TSU Tiger Tournament highlights a 21-game home schedule.
"This is a pretty balanced schedule with some challenging games," Dabney said. "We scheduled the full spectrum of competition and gives us an opportunity throw our younger players into the fire with some big teams. "
The Tigers kick-off the spring season at the Palmetto Classic in Columbia, S.C. (Feb. 10-12) as they take on host South Carolina of the SEC. Saturday brings a single-game versus Cleveland State before closing out the classic on Sunday with games against Western Kentucky and Winthrop.
The following weekend, the Tigers will travel to Montgomery, Ala. to compete in day one of the Alabama State Hornet Classic on Saturday, February 18. The Tigers will match up against Savannah State before squaring off against host Alabama State later in the day. On Sunday, TSU will make a trip to Huntsville, Ala., for a doubleheader with Alabama A&M.
TSU is on the road for the third consecutive weekend at the University of Arkansas Tournament (Feb. 24-26). The Tigers will face Jackson State and Arkansas on the opening day and Northwestern State on day two. The tournament concludes with bracket play on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
The Tigers will close out their non-conference road tournament schedule in Gainesville, Fla. (March 2-4). TSU will face-off against the 2011 National Runners-Up Florida Gators on day two of the tournament. The game against the No. 2 team in the country will be bookended with a pair of games against Campbell and Gardner-Webb.
"We want to test the team heading into conference play," Dabney commented. "Last year we played Tennessee at a high level, but could not carry over the same intensity. We want to foster a level of competitiveness no matter who is in the other dugout and maintain this level of effort with conference opponents."
TSU will open play at Tiger field with a 13-game home stand beginning with a with a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series versus Murray State (March 10-11). Alabama State will then come to Nashville on March 14 for a single-game before Coach Dabney's crew hosts the TSU Tigers Tournament (March 16-18).
Big Ten member Ohio State highlights the field of participants for the three day event. The Tigers will host the Buckeyes along with St. Bonaventure, Mississippi Valley State and Mercer in the round-robin event.
"I am all about getting the biggest crowds," said Dabney. "I am all for bringing in a big name school. It is great to expose our field, the program and the community to as many as possible. It's nice to be able to play them on our field, as opposed to always playing on theirs."
The Tigers continue OVC play with a home doubleheader against Austin Peay on March 21 before Tennessee Tech (March 24-25) comes to town for three games.
TSU hits the road to conclude their OVC series at Austin Peay (March 29), then heads over to play UT Martin (March 31-April 1) prior to traveling down to Jacksonville State for a conference doubleheader (April 4).
Eastern Illinois (April 6-7) visits for three conference games, before Jacksonville State (April 12) comes to town for a single-game (April 12) to conclude their series.
TSU returns to the road for a pair of OVC series tilts. Richmond, Ky., is the first stop to face Eastern Kentucky (April 14-15) followed by a trip to Cape Girardeau, Mo., to match-up with Southeast Missouri State (April 21-22). The Tigers fit in a non-conference game at cross-town rival, and soon to be OVC member, Belmont on April 18.
The Tigers will finish the regular season with a trip to SIU Edwardsville (May 5-6).
"The OVC is tough no matter who you play," said Dabney. "We do a stretch where we play the top three teams from last season (UTM, JSU, and EIU) back-to-back-to-back and we need to be ready to play all the time. But if we prepare well enough, we should put ourselves in a position to compete with anyone."
The Tigers finished last season at 11-43 and 5-24 in the OVC.