NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An exciting yet challenging schedule awaits Belmont University Softball as it prepares for its third season under Head Coach Brian Levin in 2019. The Bruins will face off against a whopping 19 programs that moved on to their respective conference tournament at the conclusion of the regular season, including seven teams that advanced to the Women's College World Series (WCWS). BU will also see action against a host of SEC programs, all with the goal of strengthening the team to prepare for the always tough Ohio Valley Conference slate and its own berth the WCWS.
"I am really happy with the spring schedule. Our pre-conference tournaments are going to be challenging," Levin said. "We are headed to Tampa for our first tournament, which is something we have not done the previous two years. Doing so allows us play teams from other regions in the country that we normally don't get a chance to play."
Belmont will spend the entire month of February on the road, opening the season at the EMU Madeira Beach Invitational, February 15-17, in Tampa, Fla. Competing in the tournament are Ball State, Akron, Monmouth, who played in the WCWS last season, and a pair of first-time opponents in Drexel and Delaware. The following weekend, the Bruins travel south again, this time for a tournament hosted by the University of Georgia, February 22-24, in Athens. In addition to taking on host-Georgia for the first time in program history, BU will see action against first-time opponent Bryant College and UMass, last season's Atlantic 10 Tournament runner-up.
"We are hosting two tournaments again at Rose Park which give fans an opportunity to see some quality softball against non-conference opponents," Levin said.
March brings the Bruins home for the first time in non-conference play, hosting a pair of tournaments on their home field, E.S. Rose Park. The month opens with the Bruin Classic, March 1-3, with BU taking on a trio of programs who appeared in their respective conference postseason tournaments - Northern Kentucky, Alabama A&M and Dayton. Sandwiched between the final home tournament of the season for BU is a trip west to in-state rival Memphis for the UofM Tournament, March 8-10. Over the three days, the Bruins will see action against host-Memphis, Indiana State, IUPUI, and first-time opponent DePaul, who made an appearance in the Women's College World Series last season.
A midweek showdown at Middle Tennessee State on March 13 is on deck before the team returns to the friendly confines of Rose Park. The Belmont Invitational, slated for March 15-17, welcomes Purdue Fort Wayne and WCWS participant Illinois-Chicago to Nashville before the Bruins open Ohio Valley Conference play at home. Belmont hosts UT Martin and Southeast Missouri State for a pair of doubleheaders the weekend of March 23-24 before closing the month on the road with stops at Austin Peay (March 29) and Murray State (March 31).
"The biggest change is that we are playing four SEC opponents which gives us the chance to see where we measure up against some top-25 teams. One of those games will be at home against Ole Miss," Levin said. "We also have two games against Georgia in Athens and we were fortunate enough to have Alabama meet us half way for a midweek game in Cullman, Ala."
Belmont opens the final month of regular season play, hosting WCWS Regional participant Ole Miss for a single contest on April 2 with a stop at Samford the following day. The Bruins then open their longest homestand of the season taking on crosstown rival Tennessee State (April 9), Jacksonville State (April 12), Tennessee Tech (April 14), regional rival Chattanooga (April 16), and Eastern Kentucky (April 19).
Refusing to let off the gas late in the season, the Bruins will face off against WCWS Super Regional participant Alabama on April 23 for a neutral site duel in Cullman, Ala. The programs have not met on the field since the 2005 season. Finally, Belmont wraps the regular season on the road with stops at Eastern Illinois (April 27) and SIUE (April 28).
The Ohio Valley Conference tournament is slated for May 8-11 in Oxford, Ala.
"We have raised the bar with our scheduling this year," Levin said. "We have aspirations of bringing an OVC championship to Belmont. Our conference is strong, and I think our schedule will help us prepare for a tough OVC schedule."