ELON, N.C. – As the turn of the calendar to a new year approaches, the Elon University softball team and its head coach Kathy Bocock unveiled the program’s 2018 schedule on Tuesday, Nov. 28. The 52-game slate will feature a pair of nonconference tournaments and 30 games at the Phoenix’s home facility at Hunt Softball Park.
Elon is scheduled to face 14 teams that had winning records a season ago with five of those opponents making it to the NCAA Tournament including perennial national power and Colonial Athletic Association foe James Madison. Overall, Elon will face eight teams on its 2018 slate that competed in a postseason tournament in 2017.
“We are really excited about our 2018 schedule,” said Bocock. “We have a lot of home games this season as well as a number of contests that are local. I believe that our nonconference schedule will prepare us well for the CAA with some tough contests against some quality opponents.”
Here’s a closer look and a breakdown at the Phoenix’s 2018 softball schedule: 2018 Schedule
Elon opens its 2018 campaign with a twin bill versus intrastate foe Charlotte on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Hunt Softball Park. The following day, the Phoenix welcomes another in-state rival, North Carolina Central, for its second doubleheader of the weekend on Feb. 11.
The Phoenix hosts North Carolina at Hunt Softball Park for a midweek matchup on Feb. 14. The Tar Heels will be the first of four teams that Elon will face this season from the Atlantic Coast Conference, with two contests coming on its home diamond. After hosting its home tournament on Feb. 16-18, Elon travels to NC State for its first road contest on Feb. 21.
“We are very lucky to get a chance to face teams from the ACC every year,” said Bocock. “It’s one of the best softball leagues in the country and to be able to play against them each season just shows the respect those programs have for us.”
Elon concludes the month of February with a home twin bill versus Howard on Feb. 24. Following the team’s run at the Carolina Classic on March 2-4, Elon travels to Campbell for a single-game matchup on March 7, before facing longtime Triad rival UNCG for a three-game set on March 10-11. The Phoenix and the Spartans will square off in a doubleheader on March 10, at Elon before concluding the series the next day, March 11, in Greensboro.
Syracuse makes the trek to Elon for the second time in its series versus the Phoenix on March 14. It will also be the third time over the last four seasons that Elon and Syracuse will meet on the softball diamond overall. Following the Phoenix’s trip to the USF Tournament on March 16-18, Elon faces another longtime I-40 rival in North Carolina A&T on March 27, in Greensboro, the first of home-and-home series against the Aggies.
After a midweek twin bill at Longwood on April 4, the Phoenix will head to Durham, N.C., to face Duke on April 11, as the Blue Devils begin their first season of collegiate softball in 2018. Elon concludes its nonconference slate with a rematch against N.C. A&T on April 25, at home.
Tournaments, Tournaments and Tournaments
Elon is scheduled to play in three tournaments during the season with the first coming at home, the Elon Phoenix Tournament, on Feb. 16-18. The maroon and gold welcomes the field of Bowling Green, Mount St. Mary’s, North Texas, Rhode Island and Saint Joseph’s to Hunt Softball Park.
The Phoenix will participate at the Carolina Classic on March 2-4, in Chapel Hill, N.C. It will be the first time Elon has played at the UNC-hosted tournament since 2009 with the maroon and gold slated to face Kansas, Harvard and the Tar Heels.
The last tournament of the season for Elon will be at South Florida on March 16-18. The Phoenix is scheduled to face Lehigh, LIU, former longtime conference foe Chattanooga and host USF.
“We are going to be playing in some really good tournaments this year,” said Bocock. “It’s nice to get a chance to face some different competition early in the season as we build towards the start of the CAA season. It’s a good opportunity to get some wins as well as some upsets to build our confidence as the season winds down.”
Elon begins its fourth season in the CAA at home with a three-game series against College of Charleston on March 24-25. The following weekend, the Phoenix welcomes league tournament runner-up Hofstra to Hunt Softball Park on March 31-April 1, before hitting the road for its next two CAA series at UNCW (April 7-8) and Towson (April 14-15).
The Phoenix concludes its home league series with defending league champion JMU on April 21-22, and Drexel on April 28-29. The last time JMU visited Elon in 2016, the Phoenix earned a 5-4 victory over the sixth-ranked Dukes in a 15-inning affair. The maroon and gold concludes the regular-season with a trip to Delaware on May 4-5.
The 2018 CAA Softball Championship will be held in Harrisonburg, Va., at JMU’s Veterans Memorial Park on May 8-12. The field will consist of teams that finish in the top-five of the league standings during the regular season.
“The (CAA) is a great conference to play in because of the quality of teams in this league,” said Bocock. “The competition is outstanding from top to bottom and we always look forward to going up against one of those schools.”