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    Softball Announces 2014 Spring Schedule
    Coach Sullivan has a very diverse schedule planned for 2014, with games against teams from 19 different conferences.

    Coach Sullivan has a very diverse schedule planned for 2014, with games against teams from 19 different conferences.

    Jan. 21, 2014

    Urbana, Ill. – Head Softball Coach Terri Sullivan unveils the 2014 schedule. Illinois will travel far and wide throughout tournament season, before returning to the Midwest for a challenging Big Ten slate. The season begins in Rosemont, Ill., with an indoor tournament co-hosted by Loyola and UIC.

    Quick Hits:

    • The Illini has scheduled 56 regular-season games against 37 different opponents.
    • Illinois will play 20 games against teams that participated in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including facing three of the eight teams that advanced to the Women’s College World Series: Tennessee, Michigan and Nebraska, playing three-game series against the Big Ten pair.
    • The Orange and Blue will take on six teams that finished the year ranked in the final NFCA and ESPN polls, with an additional three opponents receiving votes.
    • According to the final RPI of 2013, the Illini will face three top-10 teams, seven in the top 25, and 15 in the top 50.
    • The Illini will battle six 2013 regular-season conference champions, along with an additional four teams that won their conference tournaments.
    • Throughout non-conference play, Illinois will face teams from 18 different leagues in addition to the Big Ten. Eight of their opponents will be playing their first season in a new conference.
    • The Orange and Blue have seven new teams on their schedule that they have never faced before, including No. 17 South Alabama and Big East Champion Creighton.
    • Similar to the men’s basketball “Bragging Rights” game, the Illini will take on No. 11 Missouri in a neutral-site doubleheader outside Saint Louis in St. Charles, Mo., on March 25.
    • The 11th-Annual World’s Largest Softball Tailgate is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 5, against Nebraska.

    • The Illini will travel to Florida, Texas and California for preseason tournaments, kicking the year off with an indoor tournament in the Chicago area and concluding tournament season with the second-annual Fighting Illini Classic at Eichelberger Field on March 14-16.
    • In addition to the home tournament, the Illini will host 12 regular-season home games in Urbana.
    • Illinois kicks off Big Ten play against Iowa on March 21.
    • The Illini will face a challenging Big Ten slate, taking on all five teams that finished ahead of them in the 2013 standings, including regular-season champion Michigan and Big Ten Tournament champion Wisconsin.
      • Illinois hosts Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan in three-game series’, as well as a midweek doubleheader against Northwestern.
      • The Illini travel to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn State for weekend series’.
      • The Orange and Blue will not see Michigan State, Ohio State or Indiana during the 2013 regular season.
    • Northwestern will host the 2013 Big Ten Tournament on May 8-11, which will once again be a single-elimination tournament with all 12 teams participating. The Big Ten will be seeded according to the regular-season standings, with the top four seeds receiving a first-round bye. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

     

    A Few Words From Head Coach Terri Sullivan:

    On goals in creating the schedule:

    “Our goal is to schedule aggressively. We believe that to be the best, you have to play the best. We have never wavered in that philosophy. Our staff recruits competitors, and those types of players, those types of people, want to be challenged day in and day out. We also like to play opponents from across the country and cover all the major conferences. Last, if you study our roster, you can see we bring our players ‘home’ during their careers to play in front of their families and former coaches. “

    On opening the season with an indoor tournament at the Dome at the Ballpark, the indoor stadium for the professional fast-pitch team the Chicago Bandits, in Rosemont, Ill.:

    “Our first reason for scheduling the indoor tournament is for our two seniors, Alex Booker and Jenna Mychko, who are from the Chicagoland area. It is an easy trip and a great venue, and their families and friends can come see them play. Second, most of our local underclassmen have played in this stadium before, and we think it will be exciting for them to now walk in there with a Fighting Illini jersey on.

    “Illinois is rich in softball talent and our future prospects can catch us in action early in the season. Also, Illini great Danielle Zymkowitz has been a marquee player for the Bandits for three years now, and we are proud of her affiliation with them. Lastly, we are ABSOLUTELY assured that Mother Nature will not interfere with these games being played!”

    On what the team is most excited for:

    “To play ball! We are determined to carry the momentum from our end of the season finish in 2013 into this season. Our young players saw both sides of the game from the perspective of successes and failures last year. Our staff is confident that they have taken these valuable lessons, worked hard in the off season, and now more fully understand what the game is like at this level.”

    On the Big Ten:

    “Our conference is strong from top to bottom. In softball, you better be ready every series to take punches and give them back. The Big Ten had two College World Series participants in 2013, and we want more! Our Fighting Illini team will take each game one at a time, pitch by pitch. We do believe it is important this season to focus on having strong starts to every game and series we play in.”

    On hosting a tournament at Eichelberger Field:

    “We are committed to playing at home in front of our fans in our stadium. In softball, we travel quite a bit all season long, not to just play one game, but usually five in a weekend. We enjoy the opportunity to showcase our team right here in our own backyard as a final tune up for the conference season, and we have some great opponents joining us this year. We also like to get our team accustomed to the routines we have at home during competition, much like getting used to being on the road.”

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