Oct. 7, 2009
DEKALB, Ill.- The Northern Illinois University softball team will have to navigate a challenging 2010 schedule that features seven 2009 NCAA Tournament teams NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard announces today.
"It has a good balance," Chouinard said of the schedule. "There are definitely some challenging tournaments and some that we're going be pretty competitive and be able to get after it. There's something to be said for having a fine balance between knowing when to push and when to let up.
"We want to test them early, where we have good weather, and get them ready for the conference season. The more games you have under your belt when you start conference season, it's better overall for the team. You get to see everyone perform a bit more."
The Huskies begin the season deep in the heart of Texas when they travel to San Marcos to compete in a five-team tournament hosted by Texas State University Feb. 12-14. Northern Illinois will face Oklahoma State, a 2009 NCAA Tournament participant, to open the tournament. A doubleheader with UT-Arlington and a single game with New Mexico round out the Huskies' opening weekend of action. Northern Illinois closes out the month of February in Louisville, Ky. at the Cardinal Classic Feb. 27-28.
NIU opens March in California with games against San Diego State and San Diego before heading up to Riverside for a tournament hosted by UC-Riverside Mar. 12-14. The Huskies travel to the other side of the country a week later when they fly south to Tampa, Fla. for a tournament hosted by South Florida Mar. 19-21, before returning to DeKalb for the home opener Mar. 23, a doubleheader with Western Illinois.
After hosting Northwestern, the Huskies are back on the road when they travel to Edwardsville, Ill. for the SIU-Edwardsville Round Robin Mar. 27-28, facing South Dakota State and SIU-Edwardsville in doubleheaders both days of the tournament. The Huskies close out the six-game road swing at Valparaiso for a doubleheader with the Crusaders.
Northern Illinois opens April with a four-day, six-game homestand when the Huskies play host to Kent State in the MAC opener in doubleheader action. After a weekend set with Buffalo, NIU will welcome another NCAA qualifier from a year ago and Chouinard's alma mater, DePaul, to Mary M. Bell Field to close out the homestand.
The Huskies' doubleheader at Akron begins a stretch of nine-of-10 games on the road for NIU. Northern Illinois will return home for a midweek game with the Flames of UIC before traveling to Toledo, Bowling Green and Wisconsin. NIU returns to DeKalb for a weekend series with Western Michigan before traveling to Chicago to face Loyola.
Ball State and 2009 MAC Champion Miami (Ohio) come to Mary M. Bell Field to close out the home portion of the Huskies' slate April 30-May 2. NIU will face the Cardinals in a doubleheader April 30, while hosting the RedHawks May 1-2. Northern Illinois wraps up the 2010 season on the road in Michigan, with a doubleheader at Central Michigan May 7, then single games at Eastern Michigan May 8-9. The 2010 MAC Tournament will be held May 13-16 in Akron, Ohio.