Senior Kelly Strickland, 2011 Big South Co-Player of the Year, returns to lead the Lady Flames in their defense of the Big South championship.
Liberty softball head coach Paul Wetmore has released the 2012 softball schedule, as the Lady Flames will begin defense of their 2011 Big South championship. The team opens its season Feb. 10 at the Elon Invitational. The 2012 slate features 56 contests, including six games against teams that competed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Lady Flames will play a pair of teams, No. 4 Baylor and No. 14 Texas A&M, that finished last season ranked in the NCAA Division I Top 25. Baylor went the farthest, placing third in the 2011 Women's College World Series. "We have continued our history of scheduling some great opponents to prepare us for conference play," Wetmore said. "To play against such national powerhouses as Texas A&M, Baylor, North Dakota State and in-state rivals Virginia and Virginia Tech, speaks highly of our commitment to move our program forward." Liberty opens the season in North Carolina, competing in an invitational at Elon Feb. 10-12. The Lady Flames begin the campaign Feb. 10 against the host Phoenix, and will also face Georgetown and N.C. Central. The team then travels to Spartanburg, S.C. Feb. 24-25, where the team takes on the host Spartans, who went 42-13 in 2011 and received votes in three national polls. The Lady Flames begin the home slate March 6 with a doubleheader against East Tennessee State, marking the earliest home opener since March 4, 2003, when Liberty played host to James Madison. Liberty will then stage a trip to Texas, where the squad will compete in 10 games over Spring Break. The journey starts with five games March 9-11 at the Texas A&M Tournament. Liberty will face the host Aggies, along with Monmouth and 2011 NCAA Tournament participant North Dakota State. The trip also takes them to Texas State, another NCAA tournament team, March 13, and ends in Waco against No. 4 Baylor on March 16. A home game against Radford March 21 opens the 21-game Big South schedule, in a rematch of the 2011 Big South final, which Liberty won, 3-1. Contests at conference opponents Gardner-Webb and Radford from March 24-28 predate Liberty's season-long 10 game homestand. Liberty opens April by hosting series against Big South foes Winthrop and Charleston Southern and mid-week twin bills versus UNC Greensboro and North Carolina A&T. The Lady Flames then hit the road for 10 out of their next 12 games. An April 18 home doubleheader against James Madison is sandwiched between conference doubleheaders against Coastal Carolina and Presbyterian College. A home series against Big South newcomer Campbell April 27-28 closes out the conference schedule. The Lady Flames will head to Blacksburg for a May 1 matchup against Virginia Tech before ending the regular season by hosting Longwood May 5. "With the addition of Campbell University to conference play, we know we face a great challenge within our conference to get to postseason play." Coach Wetmore added. "But we feel we will be up for the task. I am looking forward to another great season." Liberty will then look to defend its 2011 Big South title at the 2012 Big South Softball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting. The conference tournament will take place May 10-12 and will be hosted by Radford. The Big South champion will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which will begin the weekend on May 17. For the full 2012 Liberty softball schedule, please click here.
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