KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee softball released its 2017 slate on Friday afternoon, one that features a handful of high-profile matchups throughout non-conference and Southeast Conference play.
The Volunteers are coming off 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and hosted a regional for the 12th straight season after earning the No. 13 national seed. UT finished tied for third in the SEC last year and returns 14 letterwinners from that team.
The Big Orange open the season in Statesboro, Ga., on Feb. 10 with a doubleheader against Tennessee Tech and Middle Tennessee at the Eagle Classic hosted by Georgia Southern. Tennessee’s home opener is scheduled for Thursday, March 2 against Southeast Louisiana at 3 p.m. UT will also host the 2017 SEC Tournament at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium from May 10-13.
Check out the breakdown of this year’s schedule below.
By the Numbers
– Tennessee’s schedule consists of 54 total games.
– The Vols are scheduled to play 26 regular-season home contests.
– UT will play 14 true road games and 14 neutral-site contests.
– The Big Orange will square off against 15 teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season.
– Tennessee will play six teams that reached the NCAA Super Regionals in 2016 (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma & Utah).
– The Vols will also face four teams that reached the Women’s College Series last year in Alabama, Auburn (National Runner-Up), LSU, and Oklahoma (National Champions).
UT will play its first 15 games of the season away from Knoxville with a trio of out-of-state tournaments to start the year. The Vols open the season with five games at Georgia Southern’s Eagle Classic from Feb. 10-12 before heading to New Mexico for the Troy Cox Classic hosted by New Mexico State the next weekend. Wrapping up the early season road swing will be an appearance in the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic from Feb. 23-25 in Cathedral City, Calif. Tennessee will face four NCAA Tournament teams there, headlined by a showdown with defending National Champion Oklahoma on the 23rd. The other regional teams the Vols will take on in Cathedral City include Nebraska, Utah and Texas.
The Orange and White make their home debut in early March when they host the Tennessee Invitational from March 2-5 at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. The Vols open the tournament with a doubleheader against Southeast Louisiana and Ohio on Thursday before taking on Bradley, Jacksonville State and Delaware to close out the weekend.
Other marquee non-conference matchups include a meeting with last year’s SEC Tournament champion and national runner-up Auburn in Columbia, Tenn., on March 14 (the two SEC foes do not meet in conference play this season), a home game with North Carolina on March 22 and a three-game home series against NC State from March 31-April 2.
Tennessee will also look to extend its 88-game unbeaten streak against in-state opponents with three games against foes from the Volunteer state (Tennessee Tech, Middle Tennessee & Tennessee State).
UT have four home series and four road series in conference play. The home schedule is highlighted by visits from rivals Alabama (April 15-17) and Florida (April 28-30). The Vols’ will also host South Carolina (March 10-12) and Ole Miss (March 24-26) at Lee Stadium. Their four road trips will be to Arkansas (March 17-19), Kentucky (April 7-9), LSU (April 21-23) and Texas A&M (May 5-7).
Tennessee finished with a 16-7 record in league play a year ago, good enough for a third-place finish in the regular season standings. UT also reached the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the second consecutive season.
2017 SEC Tournament Hosts
Tennessee will host this year’s SEC Tournament from Wednesday, May 10 through Saturday, May 13 at Lee Stadium. This will be just the second time the tournament is held in Knoxville, with the only other occurrence coming in 2009.
Broadcast information for games to be aired on the SEC Network and SEC Network +/WatchESPN will be released in the coming weeks.
Source- University of Tennessee Athletics