The 2010 season for the Ferris State University softball promises to be an exciting one as the Bulldogs' schedule features a number of nationally-ranked opponents throughout to go with matchups against highly-competitive conference foes.
Eight of the teams on FSU's 46-game regular-season slate are either ranked among the top 25 or received votes in the 2010 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Top 25 Preseason Poll, including 2009 national runner-up and 2010 national preseason favorite Alabama-Huntsville. The 26 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) outings will also likely require the Bulldogs to play at a consistently high level.
For Ferris State, playing the nation's best on an annual basis is an essential step towards attaining the program's annual lofty goals.
"We have two overriding goals this season-- a GLIAC championship and another NCAA Division II Championship regional bid," said Ferris State head coach Keri Becker, who begins her 13th year this spring directing the Bulldog softball program.
Ferris State will test itself early with two tournaments that feature some of the nation's premiere teams. The Bulldogs open the 2010 campaign at the Alabama-Huntsville Charger Chillout on Feb. 19-21 in Decatur, Ala., with six contests to ge held during the three-day tournament. Ferris State squares off against North Alabama on Feb. 19 in its season opener while Augusta (Ga.) State, nationally fifth-ranked Indianapolis, top-ranked Alabama-Huntsville, West Georgia, and Southern Indiana comprise the remainder of the Bulldogs' opposition in the tourney.
Following a week off, Ferris State will make its annual trek to the Sunshine State to play 14 games from March 6-13 at the Florida Rebel Spring Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla. Non-conference matchups versus ninth-ranked California, Pa. (March 10) along with Southwest Minnesota State (March 8) and Concordia-St. Paul, Minn. (March 13) highlight the team's spring break tournament.
"The 2010 schedule has shaped up to be very competitive and the early play in Alabama and Florida will give us the opportunity to break into the regional rankings early and prepare our team for league play," stated Becker. "We will face the #1 and #2 team in the country during our first weekend in the Alabama-Huntsville tournament. We will find out very quickly if we have prepared well during the offseason and preseason.
"Twelve of the 14 games in Florida will be against regional opponents. This is where it is imperative to do well to break into those Division II regional rankings. Additionally, the experience we gain during these two trips will prepare us well for the grueling GLIAC play," added Becker, the all-time winningest coach in the program's history with a current 383-237-1 career mark.
Ferris State makes its home debut on March 31 against Saginaw Valley State, the defending two-time GLIAC Tournament Champions, at the FSU Softball Field in Big Rapids, Mich. The conference doubleheader will represent the first two of 12 home appearances this spring for the Bulldogs. The remaining home dates are against Lake Superior State (April 2), Northwood (April 3), Grand Valley State (April 14), Tiffin (April 17), and Ashland (April 18). A pair of visits to 20th-ranked Wayne State (April 25) and Grand Valley State (May 1) for the regular-season finale highlight Ferris' league away tilts as the Bulldogs play their final eight outings on the road.
The top eight teams in the final GLIAC regular-season standings will qualify for the 2010 GLIAC Softball Tournament, which will be conducted May 7-9 at the Emerson Park Softball Complex in Midland, Mich., for the sixth consecutive year. The winner of the double-elimination conference tournament will be crowned as conference's overall champion.
The 2010 NCAA Division II National Championships will be held May 27-31 at Heritage Park in St. Joseph, Mo., with Missouri Western serving as hosts.
The Bulldogs enter this season listed among other teams receiving votes in the NFCA's Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll.
Ferris State wrapped up the 2009 season with a 35-10 overall record, which included an 18-4 GLIAC mark. FSU also made its second straight NCAA-II Regional Tournament appearance a year ago and the seventh time in the program's history.