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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Dec. 6, 2006
Second-year coach Kristin Peck has welcomed 10 new additions to her 2007 softball team. Her upcoming schedule was designed somewhat with the experience of her team in mind.
"Part of planning the schedule was knowing that we were going to have lot of young players with a lot of freshmen on the field at any one time," Peck said. "We want to make sure they are getting quite a bit of confidence early in the season before we get into the Atlantic Conference part of the schedule.
"We do have a lot of teams on our schedule that are very comparable to us ability-wise ... games that could go either way. If we are on our game we should win."
There are a number of tournaments on the schedule. One of the biggest is the Buzz Classic hosted by Georgia Tech in Atlanta March 2-4.
"it is a big tournament with around 25 teams," Peck said. "We are in the same pool with Georgia Tech along with Centenary, Indiana State and Buffalo. The good thing about that tournament is that you play every team in your pool and the top teams advance to the finals."
Indiana State will travel to Nashville March 8 to play the Lady Bisons at Draper Diamond.
The Lady Bisons will also be in Georgia for the Eagle Classic hosted by Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Ga.
"They had a team drop out on them late, so we don't have a schedule for their tournament," Peck said. "Georgia Southern went to an NCAA regional last year so they are pretty strong."
The Lady Bisons will play Stetson March 21 in an Atlantic Sun double-header, and then stay in DeLand, Fla., for a tournament hosted by Stetson March 23-25. Also in the field are Princeton, Cornell and Kent State.
"It will be fun to play them in a non-conference setting," Peck said. "Princeton and Cornell are usually two of the top teams in the Ivy League."
Also on the schedule is a round-robin series of games at Coastal Carolina Feb. 17 and 18 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.. Also in the field is Elon.
"Western Carolina is coming to play us at Draper Diamond to open the season Feb. 11," Peck said. "It is only their second year to have a program. We don't know a lot about them.
"We are going to Memphis this year on March 14. Last year was their first year to have a program and they did very well."
Eastern Kentucky visits Draper Diamond Feb. 27 and Western Kentucky stops there April 17.
Rounding out the non-conference schedule are double-headers with several mid-state schools including Austin Peay in Clarksville on April 3, Tennessee Tech comes to Draper Diamond Feb. 13. Tennessee State visits Draper Diamond March 28. Middle Tennessee closes out the Lady Bisons regular season schedule at Draper Diamond April 26.
"It's a good non-conference schedule," Peck said. "Yes, we are young, but we do have quite a bit of talent. And, should they perform well, we could very easily win 30 games. It's not going to be overly challenging, but it will be a challenge."
Six teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference qualify for the tournament. Stetson is the team everyone is expected to chase as it defends its regular season championship from 2006.
The Lady Bisons will host A-Sun foes Belmont (March 17), North Florida (March 30), Jacksonville (March 31), Mercer (April 13) and Kennesaw State (April 14).
In addition to Stetson, the Lady Bisons play Gardner-Webb (April 6), ETSU (April 7) and Campbell on the road in A-Sun games.
"Kennesaw is always a strong team," Peck said. "But they are still not able to go to the tournament. North Florida also had a pretty decent year.
"Jacksonville is real young with a new coach who moved up from being an assistant last season. Campbell had a great year and is getting better every year. Gardner-Webb made the tournament last year as well. Mercer should be strong again, but they will have young pitching. We will have young pitching too, so it will be a good match-up."
The Lady Bisons played in the Atlantic Sun Tournament in 2005.