SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo head softball coach Christi Wade announced the 2010 schedule Thursday afternoon. The Lions spring slate of games is highlighted by three tournaments and 30 away contests.
The Lions concluded the 2009 season with a 30-25 overall mark, securing their sixth-straight 30+ win season. However, after saying goodbye to one of the strongest classes in program history, Saint Leo now looks to their youth to help maintain the winning tradition in hopes of solidify their sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament. SLU returns nine players from last year’s squad, including six starters.
Opening the 2010 slate of contests is NAIA opponent Webber International. Saint Leo swept a pair of contests from the Warriors last season and look to begin 2010 in the same fashion. The doubleheader is scheduled for Friday, February 5th with first pitch coming at 5:00 p.m.
From there, the Lions will then hit the road for the majority of February, making the trek up to Pensacola, Fla. for the West Florida Tournament (02.12-02.14) and then to Clearwater, Fla. at the Eddie C. Moore Complex for six regional contests at the Eckerd College Tournament (02.19-02.21). The West Florida Tournament provides multiple tests for the Green & Gold, as host school West Florida, along with Gulf South Conference foe North Alabama, and 2009 National Tournament runner-up Alabama-Huntsville are all on tap.
Meanwhile, three of the Lions six opponents at the Eckerd College Classic made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, including SSC foes Tampa, Nova Southeastern, and Gulf South opponent Valdosta State.
Saint Leo will close February out with a pair of non-region doubleheaders against Lewis University (02.26) and Dominican College (02.28).
Sunshine State Conference play kicks up in early March, as the squad will travel down to St. Petersburg, Fla. to take on the Tritons of Eckerd College (03.02-03). Two days later, the Lions will play host to Lynn University in a trio of SSC slated games (03.05-03.06), before beginning the commute to Florence, S.C. for the Francis Marion Tournament. Saint Leo finished 4-1 in last season’s edition of the tournament and will once again look to continue their hot play in Carolina against stiff competition beginning with UNC-Pembroke on Friday, March 12th.
Francis Marion returns the favor the following week traveling down to Saint Leo for a pair of crucial regional contests (03.17). Next, Molloy College and UMASS-Lowell will make the trip down from the northeast to tangle with the Lions in two, out-of-conference doubleheaders.
However, on March 26th SSC action takes center stage for the remainder of the season. To begin the stretch, the Lions will travel down to Miami Shores, Fla. to take on the Barry Buccaneers (03.26-27) before taking on a strong Tampa squad to close-out March and open up April.
After dropping off their travel bags once again, Saint Leo will open up the longest home stretch of 2010, playing three consecutive SSC series from April 13th-April 25th. Opening the home slate of games is SSC power Florida Southern (03.13-14), before a resurgent Nova Southeastern bunch come to the friendly confines of University Field to tangle with the Lions (04.16-17).
April 24th-25th marks the final home games of the 2010 season for the Lions as Florida Tech enters University Field for a three-game series. The series also marks the final contests at University Field as Saint Leo prepares to enter their new softball complex at the beginning of the 2011 season.
The regular season does not come to an end though until early May when Saint Leo travels to Winter Park, Fla. to take on the Rollins College Tars (05.06-07) before preparing for possible NCAA regional action on May 14th -16th.
(Note: Saint Leo is also awaiting confirmation on a trio of games to take place in Clermont, Fla. at the beginning of March).