UVU Athletics
Head UVU softball coach TJ Hubbard (front right) talks to his team at BYU on April 26. Hubbard announced Utah Valley softball's 2018 schedule on Tuesday.

Utah Valley University head softball coach TJ Hubbard released his team's 2018 schedule on Wednesday and it features 10 contests against 2017 NCAA Tournament teams, as well as home games against in-state foes BYU and Utah State.

Returning NCAA Tournament teams BYU and New Mexico State will come to Orem this season, while UVU will also take on fellow 2017 NCAA Tournament teams in Minnesota and North Dakota State in Las Vegas, Montana in Missoula and Brigham Young in Provo. All five returning NCAA Tournament teams won their respective conferences a season ago, as BYU won the West Coast Conference, Minnesota won the Big Ten, NM State won the WAC, NDSU won the Summit League and Montana took home the Big Sky championship.

"We're excited about this year's schedule and the challenging slate that lies ahead," Hubbard said. "We'll be tested early, but we feel like our non-conference schedule will really help prepare us for conference play. We are looking forward to the 2018 season and can't wait to head to Las Vegas to officially get things underway at the Sportco Kick Off Classic."

Utah Valley, which went 16-24 overall a season ago and posted its highest finish in program history in WAC play by tying for third place with a 7-8 league mark, officially opens its 2018 season with five games at UNLV's Sportco Kick Off Classic, Feb. 9-11, in Las Vegas. At the opening tournament, UVU will take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Creighton on Feb. 9, the host UNLV Rebels and in-state foe Southern Utah on Feb. 10 and the NDSU Bison on Feb. 11.

The Wolverines then head to St. George, Utah, for a doubleheader against SUU on Feb. 24, before returning to St. George the following week for five games at the Red Desert Classic. UVU will face in-state foe Weber State on March 2, Boise State and Nevada on March 3 and Weber State and SUU on March 4.

Utah Valley then makes the trek to Fort Collins, Colorado, the following weekend for five contests at the Colorado State Classic. The Wolverines will take on Idaho State and the host CSU Rams on March 9, St. John's and Idaho State on March 10 and St. John's again on March 11. UVU then heads north the following week for a pair of games at Boise State on March 14, before traveling up to Missoula, Montana, for a three-game series at the Montana Grizzlies on March 15-17.

After playing their first 22 games away from home, the Wolverines then finally host their 2018 home opener on Wednesday, March 21, when they host Idaho State and in-state foe Utah State that afternoon at Wolverine Softball Field. Following's March 21's home opener, UVU is off until March 30-31, when it heads to the Emerald City to open WAC play at Seattle U.

Utah Valley plays host to home WAC series against last year's top-two teams in the league in Grand Canyon and New Mexico State on April 6-7 and April 20-21, respectively. The Wolverines will also take on UMKC in Kansas City on April 13-14, and CSU Bakersfield in Bakersfield on April 27-28. The Wolverines also play host to BYU in a UCCU Crosstown Clash on April 10, as well head on the road for in-state games at Utah State on April 18, at Weber State on April 24 and at Brigham Young on May 1. UVU then closes its regular season with a three-game non-conference series at Nevada on May 5-6.

The 2018 Western Athletic Conference Tournament is May 9-12, at the NM State Softball Complex in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The winner of the tournament will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. A season ago, UVU entered the WAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.