OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss softball team will play 24 home games, including five games as part of the eighth annual Red and Blue Classic, highlighting an exciting and difficult 2014 schedule, Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees announced Tuesday.
Ole Miss will play in four tournaments, including the Red and Blue Classic, prior to opening the season’s Southeastern Conference slate, which will feature eight series against teams that all advanced to the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The Rebels will open the 2014 season Feb. 7-9 in Fort Myers, Fla., and play five games in a tournament hosted by Florida Gulf Coast. From there, the Rebels will visit Charleston, S.C., from Feb. 14-16 for another tournament in which they will play five games.
After playing a doubleheader on the road against Southern Miss, Ole Miss will host Bowling Green, Buffalo, Northern Colorado, Saint Louis and Tennessee at Martin at the Red and Blue Classic from Feb. 21-23.
“We want to put on a great show for our fans here and for them to see how good we’ve gotten because we will have two-plus weeks under our belt at that point,” said Thees, who is in her third year guiding the Rebels. “We want them to see how we’ve progressed. We really want to dominate on the mound and on defense. Pitching and defense is what’s going to take us to the next level. Offensively, we do have some young hitters and some new people at the top of our lineup so we need to make sure we’re getting on base and scoring runs. I’m excited.”
Ole Miss closes out its regular season tournament schedule on the west coast at the San Diego Classic I hosted by San Diego State and San Diego from Feb. 28-March 2.
“We’re going to face some great competition and it gives our team a chance to really prepare for the conference season, but I also see us being able to have success early against competition that’s going to continue to make us better,” Thees said. “We are playing in some tough tournaments, but we want to get on a run like we did last year in our early season tournaments. That’s our goal.”
In each of Ole Miss’ eight SEC series this season the Rebels will go against a team that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season, including two teams that advanced to the World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Ole Miss will open its SEC season on the road against Florida from March 7-9. The Rebels will also face South Carolina (March 28-30), Missouri (April 18-19) and Tennessee (May 2-4) on the road in SEC play.
The Rebels will face Alabama (March 14-16), Arkansas (March 21-23), Kentucky (April 11-13) and LSU (April 25-27) at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in beautiful Oxford, Miss.
“The SEC is the best softball conference in the country,” Thees said. “It’s going to be tough but I’m looking forward to it because as we get better each year, we’re going to be able to pull out more wins in our SEC schedule. At home we’re facing Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and LSU. They’re all tough opponents, it’s not like there’s a cake walk anywhere in there. But that’s where we’re going. We’re going to be that team where people say, ‘Shoot, we have Ole Miss coming in.’ We go on the road and face Florida, South Carolina, Missouri and Tennessee. Missouri is a place we haven’t gone as a program before so that’s exciting and a challenge for us. I like where we are and I like where we’re going.”
The 2014 schedule also includes a doubleheader on the road at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (March 12) and another road game at UT Martin (March 25). The non-conference schedule also includes a home game against Louisiana Tech (March 19), and doubleheaders against Alcorn State (April 15) and Alabama A&M (April 23).
The University of South Carolina will host the SEC Tournament this season from May 8-10.
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