Winthrop softball coach Mark Cooke announced a 52-game schedule for 2015 that will feature five tournaments and 23 home games.
Winthrop returns seven starters and an experienced bench from a squad that was 27-26 overall and finished fifth in the Big South.
The Eagles will face some of the best hitting, base stealing and pitching teams from the 2014 season. A total of 13 opponents finished in the Top 100 in winning percentage with nine of them finishing in the Top 50. They will face five teams that finished in the Top 50 of batting average a year ago and 10 of the Top 100. Four of their opponents were in the Top 50 in scoring in 2014 and 11 of them finished in the Top 100. There are six teams that ranked in the Top 50 in stolen bases and 11 that were in the Top 100. And the Eagles will face six teams in the Top 50 of earned run average and 13 teams in the Top 100. There were 12 opponents in the Top 100 for fielding percentage and six of those were Top 50.
Winthrop opens the season the weekend of Feb. 6-8 as it heads to Athens, Ga., for the 8th Annual Red and Black Showcase hosted by the University of Georgia. It will be the Eagles’ seventh straight season playing in Athens and the third straight opening up the season at the tournament. Winthrop will face Illinois, Coppin State, Murray State and Georgia. Murray State won 32 games in 2014 and Georgia won 49 and finished the season ranked No. 7 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and 12th by ESPN.com/USA Softball.
For the first time since 2005, the Eagles head to Mt. Pleasant, for a tournament hosted by the College of Charleston Feb. 20-22. The Eagles will open the tournament against Bowling Green and also face Pittsburgh, Appalachian State, Massachusetts and the host Cougars.
The Eagles will host the last two tournaments they will participate in starting with the Adidas Tournament Feb. 27 to Mar. 1. Winthrop will take on Coppin State, Wagner, Harvard and USC Upstate. Wagner had one of the best team batting averages in 2014 while USC Upstate, which made it to the NCAA Regionals and finished 24th in the USA/Today/NFCA Top 25, finished the season ranked 5th in ERA.
The Final tournament is the Winthrop Invitational March 6-8 as the Eagles will face Albany (N.Y.) twice, Furman twice and Belmont. Albany was one of Winthrop’s six opponents that made an NCAA Regional as it was 1-2 in the Eugene, Ore., Regional.
Winthrop Softball Schedule
Friday Feb. 6 $Illinois Athens, GA 12:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 7 $Coppin State Athens, GA 9:00 a.m.
Saturday Feb. 7 $Murray State Athens, GA 7:00 p.m.
Sunday Feb. 8 $Murray State Athens, GA 11:30 a.m.
Sunday Feb. 8 $Georgia Athens, GA 2:00 p.m.
Friday Feb. 13 ^Eastern Illinois Auburn, AL 11:00 a.m.
Friday Feb. 13 ^Georgia State Auburn, AL 3:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 14 ^Ball State Auburn, AL 1:15 p.m.
Sunday Feb. 15 ^Mercer Auburn, AL 2:30 p.m.
Sunday Feb. 15 ^Auburn Auburn, AL 2:30 p.m.
Friday Feb. 20 &Bowling Green Mt. Pleasant, SC 5:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 21 &Pittsburgh Mt. Pleasant, SC 9:00 a.m.
Saturday Feb. 21 &Appalachian State Mt. Pleasant, SC 3:30 p.m.
Sunday Feb. 22 &Massachusetts Mt. Pleasant, SC 11:00 a.m.
Sunday Feb. 22 &College of Charleston Mt. Pleasant, SC 3:30 p.m.
Friday Feb. 27 %Coppin State Rock Hill, SC 3:00 p.m.
Friday Feb. 27 %Wagner Rock Hill, SC 5:00 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 28 %Harvard Rock Hill, SC 3:00 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 28 %USC Upstate Rock Hill, SC 5:00 p.m.
Sunday March 1 %Austin Peay Rock Hill, SC 12:00 p.m.
Friday March 6 +Albany (NY) Rock Hill, SC 3:00 p.m.
Saturday March 7 +Albany (NY) Rock Hill, SC 3:00 p.m.
Saturday March 7 +Furman Rock Hill, SC 5:00 p.m.
Sunday March 8 +Belmont Rock Hill, SC 10:00 a.m.
Sunday March 8 +Furman Rock Hill, SC 12:00 p.m.
Wednesday March 18 South Carolina Rock Hill, SC 6:00 p.m.
Friday March 20 *Longwood Rock Hill, SC 6:00 p.m.
Saturday March 21 *Longwood (DH) Rock Hill, SC 1:00 p.m.
Friday Marc 27 *Coastal Carolina Conway, SC 6:00 p.m.
Saturday March 28 *Coastal Carolina (DH) Conway, SC 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday April 1 *Gardner-Webb (DH) Boiling Springs, NC 4:00 p.m.
Friday April 3 *Charleston Southern N. Charleston, SC 3:00 p.m.
Saturday April 4 *Charleston Southern (DH) N. Charleston, SC 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday April 7 *Presbyterian College (DH) Rock Hill, SC 5:00 p.m.
Friday April 10 *Campbell Rock Hill, SC 6:00 p.m.
Saturday April 11 *Campbell (DH) Rock Hill, SC 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday April 15 *Presbyterian College Rock Hill, SC 6:00 p.m.
Saturday April 18 *Radford (DH) Radford, VA 1:00 p.m.
Sunday April 19 *Radford Radford, VA 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday April 22 *Gardner-Webb Rock Hill, SC 4:00 p.m.
Friday April 24 *Liberty (DH) Lynchburg, VA 5:00 p.m.
Saturday April 25 *Liberty Lynchburg, VA 12:00 p.m.
Tuesday April 28 *Charlotte (DH) Charlotte, NC 6:00 p.m.
Thur-Sun. May 7-10 #Big South Tournament Buies Creek, NC TBD
$ Red and Black showcase (Athens, Ga.)
^ Tiger Invitational (Auburn, Ala.)
& COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON Tournament (Mt. Pleasant)
% Adidas tournament (Rock Hill)
+ Winthrop INvitational (Rock Hill)
* Big South Game
# Big South Tournament Game