Softball finalizes challenging 2011 schedule

The 2011 season for the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will feature a challenging schedule with three teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, including Women's College World Series finalist Arizona, and 31 home games at Chapman Field.

"This year's schedule is definitely the most difficult non-conference schedule we have had since my arrival," said head coach Jake Schumann. "I felt like we needed to make that jump with this team to challenge us both physically and mentally.

It was done this way to prepare us for the Southland conference tournament with hopes of winning that tournament and preparing this team for an NCAA Regional and beyond."

The Islanders open the season by hosting Loyola Chicago, Cleveland State and UT Arlington in the Best Western Marina Grand Invitational on Feb. 10-12 at Chapman Field. After the season-opening tournament, the team travels Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, one of the toughest venues to play in all of college softball, when they take part in the Hillebrand Invitational at the University of Arizona on Feb. 18-20 in Tucson, Ariz. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will play host Arizona as well as Drake, Pacific and Kennesaw State in the three-day event.

After the tough slate in the Hillebrand Invitational, the Islanders return home to Chapman Field to host Texas Southern, Rutgers and Arkansas in the Holiday Inn Emerald Beach Islanders Classic on Feb. 24-26. It will be the final tournament of the regular season for the team as it opens up Southland Conference play on March 1-2 when they host UTSA.

The Islanders also are at home against Southeastern Louisiana for three games on March 5-6 and against Houston Baptist in a non-conference doubleheader on March 8 before hitting the road for the first time in league play. They make the longest trip of the conference slate when they travel to Conway, Ark. to face Central Arkansas on March 12-13 for a three-game set.

After returning from the trip, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi takes a break from Southland opponents with a pair of midweek doubleheaders at home, including Houston on March 15 and Houston - Victoria on March 16.

After the brief stop at home, the Islanders once again travel, this time to Thibodaux, La. to face Nicholls on March 19-20 before a doubleheader against the Texas Longhorns in Austin on March 23.

Back at home, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi plays host to defending regular-season champion Texas State in league play on March 26-27. The Islanders travel to Northwestern State on Apr. 2-3 and return home once again to host Stephen F. Austin on April 9-10. The last home series of the season will be against McNeese State, the defending Southland Conference Tournament champion. The Islanders will be looking to avenge their tournament-opening loss against the Cowgirls last year in the league tourney.

The team ends the regular season at UT Arlington on May 7-8, the team that knocked them out of the tournament a year ago.

Following the regular season, the Southland Conference Tournament will be hosted by Sam Houston State in Huntsville. The tournament will be held from May 12-14 at Sam Houston Softball Stadium.