JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 8, 2016) – ETSU softball head coach Brad Irwin announced the Bucs’ 2017 schedule on Tuesday.
ETSU – who is coming off one of its most successful seasons in program history – plays in five preseason tournaments, including the sixth annual Buccaneer Challenge, while also featuring 23 games against teams who posted 30 wins a year ago (two NCAA regional participants) and 22 home games. In addition, the Bucs also go head-to-head with Big Ten foe Michigan State, ACC contenders Virginia and Virginia Tech, and host BIG EAST power St. John’s.
“We are very excited for the upcoming season and ready to play such a challenging schedule,” said Irwin, whose team finished tied for third in the Southern Conference a year ago. “The preseason tournaments and non-conference games will help prepare us for the demanding SoCon schedule.”
The Bucs open the 2017 season on Feb. 10 at the Gardner-Webb Tournament where ETSU takes on North Carolina A&T and host Gardner-Webb on Opening Day. The following day, the Blue and Gold face Alabama A&M before moving into bracket play.
The Buccaneer Classic will be held March 3-5 as ETSU hosts Savannah State on March 3 in its season opener. The Blue and Gold also face Morehead State and BIG EAST foe St. John’s that weekend at Betty Basler Field.
ETSU’s other remaining tournaments include trips to South Carolina (Charleston Southern Tournament, Feb. 17-19; Winthrop Invitational; Feb. 24-26) and Georgia for the Owl Challenge at Kennesaw State Tournament on March 10-12. In Charleston, the Bucs take on ACC foe Virginia, UNC Wilmington and host Charleston Southern – in a “Battle of the Bucs” game. Meanwhile, at the Owl Challenge, ETSU will see Big Ten foe Michigan State and a Kennesaw State team that posted 30 wins a year ago.
Following the tournament portion of their schedule, the Bucs will host four non-conference doubleheaders – Radford (March 14), Tennessee Tech (March 18), Presbyterian (March 29) and USC Upstate (April 18). USC Upstate has won at least one NCAA regional game the last four seasons, while Radford is coming off a 35-win campaign in 2016.
ETSU’s home SoCon slate features weekend series with Mercer (April 1-2), Chattanooga (April 14-15) and Furman (April 29-30), while the Bucs travel to reigning conference champion Samford (April 8-9), Western Carolina (April 22-23) and UNCG (May 6-7).
The SoCon Tournament will be held at Chattanooga’s Frost Stadium May 10-13.