OREM, Utah — The Utah Valley University softball team announced its schedule for the upcoming 2013 season. The schedule sends the Wolverines to three non-conference invitationals, features games against every in-state school and pits UVU against crosstown rival BYU in a conference game for the first time.
"I am most excited about our 11 home dates (Utah, Marist, CSU Bakersfield, BYU, Idaho State, Santa Clara, Weber State)," interim head coach Rachel Hartgrove said. "We are familiar with all of our home opponents, which should make for some exciting contests."
A year removed from a 33 win season in 2012 — the most in the Wolverines' Division I era — UVU opens the 2013 campaign in St. George at the Red Desert Classic on Feb. 8. During that opening weekend, in-state rival Southern Utah, Big 12 member Oklahoma State and Nevada of the Mountain West will be on hand.
From there, the Wolverines continue on to the Easton Desert Classic in Henderson, Nev. While there, UVU will face a trio of California schools — Long Beach State, San Jose State and California — before facing UNLV. The Wolverines wrap up the invitational against Hawai'i — a rematch of last year's contest in Orem where the 15th ranked Rainbow Wahine claimed a 6-1 win.
UVU makes its home debut March 5, the first leg of a home-and-home series with Utah. The Wolverines then head south, treading into SEC country as they face Arkansas in a three-game series March 8-10.
Following that series, UVU remains in the South with a return trip to the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando. The Wolverines' opponents for the eight-game invitational have yet to be determined.
"Our pre-season is a great mix of top teams and regional teams," Hartgrove said. "During our trip to Las Vegas we will play two teams that finished in the top 20 last year and it will be a great test to see where we are before we head out to the Rebel Spring Games. We had a lot of success out in Florida last year and look to continue that success this year."
A home game against Marist on March 20 gives way to the conference season as the Wolverines open Pacific Coast Softball Conference play on the road with a four-game series at St. Mary's.
"With the switch to one division and the addition of BYU to the conference, we molded our non-conference schedule to prepare us for our conference schedule," Hartgrove said.
The PCSC, which has operated as a two-division league over the past few years, will no longer be divided into divisions following the departure of several schools following the 2012 season.
The Big Sky Conference, which had not previously sponsored softball, reclaimed PCSC affiliate members Idaho State, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State and Weber State for its first year of softball sponsorship. Seattle has also departed for the Western Athletic Conference.
Still, the PCSC did make an exciting addition when it welcomed BYU to the fold not long after the conclusion of the 2012 season. UVU and BYU will now compete for the PCSC's automatic NCAA tournament bid for the first time as conference rivals. The Wolverines and Cougars meet for a four-game series in Orem on Apr. 5.
"The conference schedule will no doubt be tougher than in the past, but I believe with the team make-up we have we should compete very well," Hartgrove said. "We only lost two players to graduation last season and we return the core of last year's record-setting team."
Other notable games in 2013 include home and home series with Weber State, Utah State and Idaho State.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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