Gail Miller Field (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Head coach Gordon Eakin and the defending Mountain West Conference champion BYU softball team released their 2011 regular season schedule on Tuesday.
The Cougars are coming off their first-ever appearance in an NCAA Super Regional after reaching a school record 46 wins in 2010.
"We look forward to facing another year of very tough competition," Eakin said. "We will play a lot of great teams and expect to improve on a great year last season."
BYU will play 18 games against 15 teams that made the NCAA tournament last season, including national champion UCLA. The Bruins and Cougars will meet up twice, first in San Diego on March 4 and again a week later in Long Beach, Calif., on March 12.
The Cougars will play in seven tournaments before beginning conference play on April 8 at Utah. Preaseason highlights include the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., where BYU will go against five teams coming off of NCAA tournament appearances over three days: Florida State, Virginia, Nebraska, Tennessee and Ohio State. Tennessee finished third in the Women's College World Series in 2010.
The team will also travel to Hawaii for a four-day tournament, including games against 2010 NCAA qualifiers Iona, California and Hawaii.
BYU hosts Weber State in its first home game of the season on March 24 in addition to playing Utah State and a doubleheader against Southern Utah at Gail Miller Field before beginning Mountain West Conference play.
The Cougars will open conference play with beginning at Utah, then will continue with road games at Utah State, UNLV, a two-game series at San Diego State and finishing up at Utah Valley. The MWC defending champs will finally host its first conference home game at Miller Field on April 21 against New Mexico to begin an eight-game home stand. The Cougars' regular season will conclude on May 14 at Miller Field against Utah before NCAA Regionals begin on May 26.
Four games will be televised nationally on BYUtv, beginning with the Cougars' game against New Mexico on Thursday, April 21. BYUtv will also broadcast BYU's two-game home series at home against Colorado State on April 22-23 and the season finale at home against Utah on May 14.
The Cougars return all but three starters from last year's squad in 2011, including All-American catcher Jessica Fitu and All-Region pitcher Paige Affleck, already the winningest pitcher in BYU history. Other All-MWC first team returnees include senior second baseman Kristin Delahoussaye and sophomore shortstop JC Clayton.
CLICK HERE to view the complete 2011 schedule.