Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State softball team was picked to finish sixth in the East Division in the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Poll, which is voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors. The Tigers ended last season 15-39, 5-25 in the OVC.
Head Coach Jeff Dabney and the Tigers opened practice on Monday as they took advantage of the two indoor facilities on campus to escape the weather. They are preparing for another challenging schedule in 2013 with eleven games against teams who competed in the 2012 NCAA tournament. The team opens play against South Alabama at the Mississippi State Bulldog Classic on Friday, February 8. The second day of the three day event will pair the Tigers against Troy and the host Bulldogs. TSU will close out play against Georgia State on the final day.
The team will travel the following weekend to their second Southeastern Conference venue as they take part in the Auburn Tournament. Day one opens with Bryant before facing the host Tigers. TSU closes out play with Chattanooga and Indiana State.
The Tigers will then return for the home opener and the first of two tournaments at Tiger Field. The Tiger Invitational will be held from Feb. 23-24 and will consist of five teams, including Bradley, Butler, IUPUI and HBCU opponent Morgan State.
Before the Tigers' second tournament of the season, they will travel to Irondale, Ala. to compete in the Tiny Lassiter HBCU Classic from March 1-3. Howard will be the opponents on day one, while games with Maryland-Eastern Shore and Savannah State highlight day two. A showdown with Hampton is scheduled for the final day.
The 15-game TSU Tiger Classic is next on the slate and will be held March 8-10. The Big Blue will host Alabama State, Mississippi Valley State, Saint Louis, Nebraska-Omaha and Big 10 opponent Indiana.
The Tigers will play on three consecutive days during spring break as they return to action on March 12, by hosting Auburn for a single game. The young squad will then load up to hit the road as they challenge ACC opponent Florida State on March 13. TSU will remain in Tallahassee, Fla. to play a single game with Florida A&M on March 14.
Coach Dabney's team will continue the road trip with the start of OVC play at Jacksonville State. The two teams will play a traditional three-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday.
The Tigers will return for a seven-game home stand beginning with a cross-division doubleheader with defending OVC champions UT Martin on March 23. The following day, Southeast Missouri State will come to Tiger Field for a twin bill. A three-game series with Morehead State will close out the home stand over the Easter Weekend.
TSU will step out of conference on April 2 for a single game in Knoxville against SEC and national power Tennessee. The midweek game with the Volunteers is the start of a ten game stretch away from the friendly confines of Tiger Field. Doubleheaders with SIU-Edwardsville, Eastern Illinois and Murray State sandwich a three-game divisional series at Eastern Kentucky.
The Tigers return home on April 21 for a double-dip with Austin Peay before hosting three games over two days with Tennessee Tech on April 27 and 28. TSU will then play its final non-conference games during a doubleheader in Itta Bena, Miss. versus Mississippi Valley State.
The regular season concludes on May 4-5 at home as they host crosstown foe and new OVC member Belmont. Postseason play begins on May 9 with the OVC Tournament.