FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Co-Head Coaches Elizabeth Luckie and Pam London as well as the Sacred Heart University softball team announced its 2019 schedule Friday afternoon. This year's group looks to up last season's 31-25 record and Northeast Conference tournament clip, 1-2. The Pioneers have 55 games on their slate with 17 as NEC clashes and six to be played in front of a SHU crowd.
London began. "We have put together a solid and competitive schedule. All of our early tournaments will challenge the readiness of our team. At SHU it all begins with our pitching staff! We depend on them to give us a chance to win every game we play."
For its season launch, SHU heads to North Carolina for the Gardner-Webb University Tournament hosted by Gardner-Webb University beginning February 15. There, the Pioneers get a chance at Gardner-Webb and Hartford on Friday prior to Saturday's matchup with Oakland (MI) and Loyola (IL). Sunday marks the final day of play with SHU closing out competition against Hartford.
In the month of March, softball will participate in a trio of tournaments starting with Liberty University's Tournament on March 1. Friday will see the Pioneers battle Cleveland State in a double-header beginning at 10:00 a.m. The Pioneers will face Rutgers, Liberty and Northeast Conference foe Robert Morris during the course of the tournament which ends on Sunday, Mar. 3.
Three days after play ends in Lynchburg, SHU will head to south to North Carolina to take to take on Western Carolina for one game before staying in the Tar Heel State to compete in the UNCG Invitational beginning on Thursday, Mar. 8 and going through Mar. 10. The Pioneers will be facing off against Saint Peter's, UNCG, Delaware and Towson in the invite.
SHU will then make its trek back up north as the Pioneers will compete in the Cherry Blossom Classic hosted by George Mason to conclude tournament play. The Pioneers open tournament play against East Carolina on Friday, Mar. 15 followed by a game with the host the same day. The Pioneers will also face Cornell on Mar. 16 and 17 while playing two more games against George Mason as well.
The Pioneers will then head up to Rhode Island for a doubleheader on Tuesday Mar. 20 at Providence beginning at 2:30 p.m. The Pioneers are excited to return four top players from last year as London stated "Kristen and Emily were outstanding last year! We know they will be ready to GO! We are also hoping that Shyanne and Colleen will be ready to help bear some of their load this year. Offensively we are very happy to have Hailey, Steph, Kate, and Fallon all back at the top of our order!"
London added "They bring confidence to the rest of our line up. We are looking forward to the emergence of our juniors and sophomores along with a few major contributions from our freshman. SHU Softball will be ready to compete this spring---without a doubt!"
The team welcomes Hartford on Mar. 20 for the teams home opener which first pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Pioneer Park. The Pioneers will have one more home series against Stony Brook a week later on Mar. 26 before hitting the road for a pair of series against Iona on Mar. 27 followed by NEC rival Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, Mar. 30.
The Pioneers will conclude March with a double header against Mount Saint Mary's at Pioneer Park on Sunday, Mar. 31 beginning at 12:00 p.m. London is expecting the team to have strong leadership heading into the season as they return 11 upperclassmen for last season. "We have really great leadership on this veteran team. They feel like they sold themselves a bit short last year and they have been working hard to get themselves ready to accomplish their goals!"
The Pioneers kick off the month of April with a doubleheader at Siena on Tuesday, Apr. 2 beginning at 3:00 p.m.
SHU returns to Pioneer Park on Thursday, April 4 as the team hosts local rival Fairfield for one game at 3:30 p.m. The Pioneers then host NEC Rivals LIU Brooklyn and CCSU on Saturday, Apr. 6 and 7 both doubleheaders. The Pioneers will host one more game on Wednesday, April 10 as the Pioneers face Quinnipiac at 3:30 p.m.
SHU then will hit a five game road stand first traveling to Pennsylvania to face Saint Francis U and Robert Morris on back to back days first SFU on April. 13 at 1:00 p.m. followed by Robert Morris on April 14 at 10:00 a.m. Then on the trip back, the Pioneers will take a pit stop at Yale on April, 17 to face the Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m.
The Pioneers return home on Friday Apr. 19 for a doubleheader against Wagner beginning at 1:00 p.m. Then SHU stays at Pioneer Park for a doubleheader against Manhattan four days later beginning at 3:00 p.m.
SHU then will conclude the month of April with three road games first against Fairfield on Thursday April 25 at 3:30 followed by a doubleheader with Bryant on Sunday April. 28 beginning at 12:00 p.m.
The Pioneers conclude the regular season on Thursday May 2 when they travel to Hamden, Conn. to face off against Quinnipiac. Game-time is set for 1:00 p.m.