Minneapolis, Minn. - The University of Minnesota softball team has announced their 2010 schedule which includes five invitationals in addition to the Metrodome Tournament to open the season, before a full slate of Big Ten play.
Co-head coaches Lisa Bernstein and Julie Standering announced a schedule that includes three teams from last spring's College World Series, and seven total teams that appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2009.
The 2010 season begins indoors as the Gophers host the annual Metrodome Tournament Feb. 11-14. A doubleheader with Western Illinois is the official start to Minnesota's campaign as they play out the tournament under the Teflon roof. Minnesota will also take on Iowa State, Drake and Arkansas in the four-day tournament.
A sweep through the south brands the next four weekends as the Gophers visit Florida, Georgia and Arizona before the trip north to Idaho and the end of the nonconference season.
The Gophers will be at the Florida Atlantic Kick-off Classic Feb. 19-21 in Boca Raton, Fla., facing the likes of Pittsburgh, Mississippi, Kentucky and host Florida Atlantic. A one-game tilt with Florida Gulf Coast on Feb. 25 breaks up tournament appearances, but the Gophers jump right back into action a day later in the Florida Gulf Coast Spring Break Invitational. In Fort Meyers, Fla., Minnesota will meet up with Connecticut, Georgia Southern, Eastern Michigan and Villanova.
As March begins the Gopher remain in the south, playing in the Georgia Bulldog Invitational Mar. 5-7. The marquee match-up will be when Minnesota faces off with host Georgia, a College World Series team from last season. Also in Athens, Ga. the Gophers take on Middle Tennessee State, Elon and Belmont.
Mar. 12-14 the Gophers play in the Arizona Wildcat Tournament against Creighton, Illinois-Chicago, Northern Colorado and St. John's. Minnesota closes with host Arizona, their second opponent that played in the 2009 College World Series. The final tune up before Big Ten play will be the Boise State Tournament Mar. 19-21.
Minnesota then opens Big Ten play on the road at Penn State on Mar. 27 & 28 and at Michigan State on Apr. 3 & 4. The home opener follows, but will be no easy task as the Gophers welcome defending Big Ten Champion Michigan to Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Apr. 10 & 11.
The Gophers alternate road and home contests for the next four weekends traveling to Northwestern on Apr. 14 and Ohio State on Apr. 24 & 25, while hosting Indiana on Apr. 17 & 18 and Purdue on May 1 & 2. Purdue played it the NCAA Tournament last season and is the first of two straight NCAA Tournament teams to visit Jane Sage Cowles Stadium, as Iowa visits Minneapolis on May 8 & 9. Wisconsin on May 12 is the third of three straight home series and the final match-up at Cowles Stadium, before the Gophers head to Illinois on May 14 & 15 to close the regular season.
The first round of the NCAA Tournament begins on May 20, with the Super Regionals on May 27 and the College World Series in Oklahoma City, June 3-8.