In one week the Jacksonville State softball team will be preparing to open the 2014 season and will do so as the reigning Ohio Valley Conference tournament champions looking to for another strong season. The 2014 campaign tests the Gamecocks against some of the stiffest competition in the state as well as throughout the country.
The Gamecocks opens the season next Friday, February 7 in Starkville, MS at the Mississippi State Bulldog Kickoff Classic. JSU will open the season playing Northern Kentucky and will then face Mississippi Valley State twice as well as the hosting Bulldogs twice to end the weekend.
JSU knocked off an SEC foe on the road last season when they beat Arkansas in its tournament.
The following weekend coach McGinnes’ squad will be on the road in Charleston, S.C. for Charleston Southern’s tournament, which will also feature Maine and St. Bonaventure.
JSU will to the state to face Alabama A&M, who JSU swept a year ago, in Huntsville and then will head down to the Plains for Auburn's tournament starting on February 21. There, the Gamecocks will face Auburn, a 30-win team a year ago, who returns 14 letterwinners and also Purdue out of the Big Ten which took down programs like Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Ohio State in 2013.
Jax State will then take off for the final tournament of the season when it returns to South Carolina for Coastal Carolina’s Chanticleer Challenge in Myrtle Beach. JSU will face some of the toughest competition to date here opening with Coastal, the defending Big South champion and 2014 preseason favorite, on March 6 before facing Furman out of the Southern Conference and also the SoCon’s 2013 champion, Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Finally, 20 games into the season the Gamecocks will suit up in Jacksonville and take the field against Ball State. JSU will open University
Field which underwent renovations for the second straight offseason and now features sunken dugouts.
The win in the first game home won’t be easy against the 2013 MAC champions who posted a 37-17 record a season ago.
The Gamecocks then enter conference play and will host series against Tennessee Tech, Eastern Illinois and SIU-Edwardsville before going
to Tennessee State, Austin Peay and Murray State.
JSU will have additional home series against Morehead State and Belmont as well as road contests at SEMO, UT-Martin and finishing the season at Eastern Kentucky.
Between the OVC series, JSU will host in-state foes UAB and Samford on March 18 and April 3 respectively. UAB comes off a 40-win season
with a team that won the Conference USA title on its way to reaching the NCAA Super Regionals. The Gamecocks will play Middle Tennessee State and Georgia State at home during the 2014 season.
The goal will be one game at a time and one series after another with their sights set on earning a high seed in the conference tournament to make another run at reaching the NCAA tournament.
Jacksonville State proved last season when it won the OVC tournament as a sixth seed, the lowest seed ever to win the tournament, that it can never be counted out.