HARROGATE, TN -- The Lincoln Memorial University softball team has unveiled the schedule for the 2013 campaign, first-year head coach Natalie Layden announced Thursday morning.
The Lady Railsplitters are slated for 53 games the season with a vast array of quality in-region and out-of-region opponents, as they look to improve on an 18-28 finish in the 2012 campaign. For the first time in 18 seasons, Lincoln Memorial will be under the direction of new leadership with Natalie Layden stepping to the helm of the Lady Railsplitter softball program for her first season.
LMU opens the season on February 2nd with a trip to Milledgeville, Georgia to compete in the 2013 Bobcat Blast where they play a two-game set against Peach Belt Conference foe and host Georgia College & State University before closing the weekend on February 3rd with a doubleheader against another Peach Belt member, Georgia Southwestern. The Bobcat Blast will serve as the first of four tournaments in which the Lady Railsplitters will participate this season. On February 9th, LMU is primed to head to Dahlonega, Georgia for the North Georgia-Captain D's Classic which will pose possibly their stiffest competition of the season outside of the South Atlantic Conference. In that event, the Lady Railsplitters play host North Georgia and Lander University for one game apiece on both February 9th and 10th. North Georgia finished 49-10 last season and edged to within one win of advancing to the Elite Eight of the 2012 NCAA Softball Championship. The Saints capped the season ranked 10th in the NFCA poll. Lander finished 26-26 last season.
The Lady Railsplitters' tournament action will also send the girls north to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the Bellarmine Classic (Feb. 23-24). In that event, LMU is scheduled to take on Ashland University and host Bellarmine for a single game on both days. Bellarmine will serve as an in-region opponent and Ashland will count as an out-of-region foe but they will both provide quality competition, as the Knights of Bellarmine and the Eagles of Ashland both earned bids to the 2012 Softball Championship. Ashland finished the season with a 42-17 mark while Bellarmine notched a 32-29 record.
Lincoln Memorial will play in their final tournament of the season from March 1st through the 3rd, as they travel to Duncan, South Carolina to take part in the Mid-South Classic. On March 1st, the Lady Railsplitters open the day against Lander University before closing the day against Augusta State University. Peach Belt foe Augusta State capped the 2012 season with a 33-18 mark en route to earning a bid to the NCAA Softball Championship. They were a constant presence in the NFCA rankings during the 2012 season. On Saturday (3/2), the Lady Railsplitters challenge a pair of Conference Carolinas members in Erskine College and Mount Olive College before closing the weekend against King College on Sunday.
The Lady Railsplitters and the Tornado of King College are pitted to play five times this season, with stops in Bristol, Tennessee and Harrogate, Tennessee bookending the one-game matchup in the Mid-South Classic. King finished 34-19 last season and earned a bid to the NCAA Softball Championship.
The Lady 'Splitters are scheduled for 11 dates and 22 games on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University and Dorothy Neely Field this season, beginning with a doubleheader against Milligan College on February 5th. The Lady Railsplitters first home weekend set is slated for February 14th-17th which will see a stretch of six games in four days at Dorothy Neely Field. The Lady Railsplitters host Lees-McRae on Thursday (2/14), Limestone on Saturday (2/16) and Viginia Intermont on Sunday (2/17).
South Atlantic Conference play kicks off on March 9th, as the Lady Railsplitters welcome Wingate University to town for the first of five SAC home series this season. The Lady Railsplitters also host Brevard (3/16), Mars Hill (3/26), Anderson (3/30) and Lenoir-Rhyne (4/13). The series against the Bears of Lenoir-Rhyne serves as a major challenge in the final doubleheader of the regular season. The Bears capped the 2012 season as the South Atlantic Conference regular-season and tournament champions, earning a bid to the NCAA Softball Championship. L-R finished 48-13 last season and ranked 20th in the NFCA poll.
The Lady Railsplitters hit the road for four SAC series, with trips on tap to Carson-Newman (3/13), Tusculum (3/20), Catawba (3/23) and Newberry (4/6). Of those four contests, Catawba will provide the toughest test as the Indians finished 33-19 last season and made an appearance in the NCAA Softball Championship.
In total, LMU plays 16 games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Division II Softball Championship with seven opponents who achieved that distinction on the schedule. Of the Lady Railsplitters' 53 games, 41 come against in-region foes.
For complete coverage of Lincoln Memorial University athletics, head over to www.LMURailsplitters.com.