Dec. 6, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Coming off one of its most successful seasons in program history, Army's softball team announced its 2014 schedule of 54 games featuring five teams that earned berths to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Black Knights were among the participants at last year's NCAA postseason tournament after earning their third trip in school history and first since 2002 as the Patriot League Tournament champions.
Head coach Michelle DePolo, who reached the 100-win plateau last year, opens her fifth season at the helm when the season gets underway in February. Army makes its debut at the three-day Houston Invite (Feb. 14-16) in a field that includes NCAA participants Nebraska and host Houston.
The Black Knights and Cougars met last year at the Austin Regional Tournament hosted by Texas. Army suffered a 5-0 defeat to the Longhorns, who went on to close out the season ranked third nationally, followed by a 7-5 defeat to Houston.
Army is on the East Coast for the remainder of its schedule starting with the UNCG Spartan Classic in Greensboro, N.C. (Feb. 21-23) where the Black Knights take on NCAA participants Hampton and Minnesota, along with the host Spartans. The first weekend in March finds Army competing at the Patriots Classic (March 1-2) that includes games with Cornell and Rider, along with two against UNCG.
The Black Knights take a few days off before making their annual trek to Florida for an eight-game slate at the Rebel Spring Games (March 14-18), which will be played this year in Winter Haven, Fla. Army takes on Howard, Creighton, Siena, St. Peter's, Buffalo, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Albany.
The quest for its second straight Patriot League Championship gets underway upon Army's return from Florida as the defending PL Tournament champions head to Lewisburg, Pa., to take on Bucknell the weekend of March 22-23. With the conference expanding to seven teams this year with the addition of Boston University, the teams will play a three-game series instead of four games with a doubleheader played on Saturday and a single game on Sunday.
Army makes its home debut against Rider in a non-conference doubleheader on March 25 in opening a season-long six-game homestretch at the Softball Complex that hosts 16 games in 2014. The Black Knights welcome the league's newest member, Boston University, to West Point the weekend of March 29-30, followed by a non-conference match with Iona on April 1.
The Black Knights visit league rivals Colgate (April 5-6) and Holy Cross (April 26-27) in closing out their three conference series on the road. In between are non-league doubleheaders against St. Peter's (April 8) at home, along with road trips to NCAA participant Marist (April 12), Fairleigh Dickinson (April 15) and Sacred Heart (April 21).
Army is home for its final two league series against Lafayette (April 19-20) and Lehigh (May 3-4), the latter the regular-season finale that closes out a five-game home stretch that includes non-conference opponent Albany.
Next up is the Patriot League Championship with Army looking to be among the top four teams to earn a berth to the double-elimination tournament hosted by the highest seed (May 8-10) with the winner earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
At the conference tournament last year, the second-seeded Black Knights worked their way back from the losers' bracket after being shut out by top-seeded and host Lehigh to shock the Mountain Hawks, 4-0 and 5-0, in claiming the title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Army returns six starting position players and 13 letterwinners from last year's squad that posted a 35-26 overall record. The Black Knights also welcomed nine freshmen to a squad of 22 players.