Last season, IU softball started 7-21 under first-year Coach Shonda Stanton.
The Hoosiers were able to turn the season around and finish third in the Big Ten with a 17-6 record in regular season conference play.
On Wednesday afternoon, the 2019 schedule was announced, and it provides IU multiple opportunities to expand on the success found toward the end of last season.
Out of the 55 total games, IU will play 17 home games and 17 games against 2018 NCAA Tournament teams. Nine of those teams finished the season ranked or receiving votes in the final USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll of the year.
IU will also play the Big Ten Tournament in Bloomington at the end of the season for the first time in program history.
“We put together a schedule that will test us in the nonconference portion to prepare us for Big Ten play,” Stanton said in an IU Athletics press release. “We will travel to some great tournaments to open the season then are excited to get home and play in front of our fans, who were outstanding last season. The opportunity to host the Big Ten Tournament is one we are very much looking forward to and we are ready to see what Team 46 can do.”
IU will start off the new season Feb. 8 in Boca Raton, Florida, for a tournament organized by Florida Atlantic University. Virginia and 2018 NCAA Regional participant Bethune Cookman will be the two opponents for IU on opening day. IU will then face Georgia, who advanced to the 2018 Women’s College World Series before finishing the weekend against FAU and St. John’s.
The Hoosiers will then travel to Durham, North Carolina, for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to face both Duke and Syracuse.
IU will travel to Macon, Georgia, on Feb. 22 to participate in the Black and Orange Challenge hosted by Mercer. IU will face Loyola Chicago and Akron twice each and Mercer once.
The following weekend, IU will participate in the Purple and Gold Challenge put on by Louisiana State University. IU will face Stephen F. Austin and NCAA Super Regionals participant LSU. IU will finish the weekend with a single game against University of South Carolina Upstate and two games against Illinois State.
After spending about a month on the road, IU will take on Butler in the first home game of the season.
IU will then go on a spring break trip March 8 to play in the University of South Florida Tournament in Tampa, Florida. The Hoosiers will take on Seton Hall, St. Joe’s, USC Upstate, Furman and 2018 Regionals participant USF. Afterward, IU will travel to Ft. Myers for a matchup with Florida Gulf Coast.
IU returns home March 15-17 to play host to the annual Hoosier Classic. IU will face Toledo before four games against 2018 NCAA Tournament participants in Ohio twice, Northwestern, and Saint Francis. The game against Northwestern won’t count toward conference play.
The final nonconference game will be March 26 against Louisville on the road.
The Hoosiers will begin Big Ten play on March 22-24 on the road at Ohio State, which advanced to Regionals last season. The other Big Ten road matchups include NCAA Regional participants Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as a visit to Penn State in early May.
The home conference schedule includes Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers and a doubleheader with Purdue on April 10.