Missouri State Announces 2011 Softball Schedule



SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Missouri State softball team will square off against at least seven postseason qualifiers from 2010 and participate in three early-season tournaments as part of its 52-game 2011 schedule. The Bears will host 20 home games on 15 dates at Killian Softball Stadium, as well as the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Softball Championship.

Missouri State will be challenged early and often in 2011, playing at least 12 games against NCAA Tournament participants, including home dates with North Dakota State (March 15), Oklahoma State (March 29) and Creighton (April 9-10). Additionally, MSU's non-conference schedule includes five games against Big 12 Conference foes and four versus Big Ten opponents.

The Bears will kick off the campaign Feb. 18 against Colorado State in the first of five games at the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas, where MSU will also battle Texas (Feb. 18) and Wisconsin (Feb. 19). After a week off, the Bears will open the home portion of the schedule with a single contest against SIU Edwardsville on March 3, then head to St. Louis, where they will square off against the state of Missouri's other four Division I programs at the Saint Louis University Breast Cancer Tournament. Highlighting the weekend will be MSU's tourney finale against a Missouri (March 6) club coming off back-to-back College World Series appearances.

Following a non-conference doubleheader at North Texas on March 9, Missouri State will wrap up regular-season tournament play the weekend of March 12-13, at the Oklahoma Sooners Spring Festival in Norman, Okla. The Bears will take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Indiana on the opening day of the meet, before facing the host Sooners on day two.

A busy six-day stretch awaits the Bears as they host a pair of non-conference foes and open the MVC season the week of March 15-20. Missouri State will play six games over that span-all at Killian-beginning with North Dakota State (March 15) and single games with Minnesota on March 16-17, before opening Missouri Valley Conference play with a three-game series against UNI (March 19-20).

MSU travels to Indiana State (March 26-27) for its first Valley road series of the season, before returning home to host Big 12 power Oklahoma State in the first of two games for the Bears against the Cowgirls in 2011.

Missouri State will hit the road for a five-game stretch that will include a conference trip to Illinois State (April 2-3) and a single game with Arkansas (April 6), which will sandwich the Bears' return trip to Stillwater, Okla., as part of a home-and-home series with Oklahoma State (April 5).

The Bears return to Killian for the first of five April home dates, opening a three-game series against 2010 MVC champion Creighton on April 9. Missouri State will also host UMKC (April 12) in a doubleheader before hitting the road for eight straight games against Bradley (April 16-17), Wichita State (April 20) and Southern Illinois (April 22-23).

MSU will play its final seven MVC games at home, beginning with a single contest against Wichita State (April 26). A road game with Tulsa (April 27) will precede three-game conference series against Drake (April 30-May 1) and Evansville (May 7-8) to close the regular season.

Highlighting the the Bears' 2011 slate will be MVC Championship, which returns to Springfield after a 17-year hiatus. As the host institution, MSU is guaranteed a spot in the tournament, which will take place May 12-14, at Killian and determine the recipient of the Valley's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. This year's tournament will feature an eight-team, single-elimination format, with the top two seeds earning double byes and the third and fourth-seeded teams receiving single byes.

Missouri State, which went 21-32 despite finishing just two wins shy of the program's sixth MVC title and NCAA Tournament appearance, will begin its 43rd season of varsity softball in 2011 with an overall record of 949-794-2. Head coach Holly Hesse enters her 23rd season as head coach of the Bears with a career mark of 569-558-2.




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