GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University softball team will play 56 regular season games, including 22 South Atlantic Conference contests with the release of the 2020 schedule.
"We are excited about the 2020 season and playing a well-rounded and competitive schedule," said TU head coach Julie Huebner. "Our non-conference schedule is a good mixture of teams that reached the regionals last year and some new opponents that we have not had on the schedule in the last few seasons. The non-conference schedule should prepare us for our challenging conference schedule."
Huebner, the second-winningest softball skipper in program history, is beginning her eighth season at the helm of the Pioneer program. This year's team includes three transfers, six freshmen, and 13 returners.
The 2019 Pioneers went 22-20 and 8-12 in the SAC, while going an impressive 16-8 at Red Edmonds Field. For the first time since 2012, Edmonds Field will serve as hosts of the SAC Softball Tournament. The eight-team, single-elimination tournament will be held Apr. 24-25 in Greeneville.
"We are very excited to be hosting the 2020 South Atlantic Conference Tournament at Red Edmonds Field," said Coach Huebner. "We expect it to be a great event for our conference, student-athletes, campus, and the Greeneville community."
Tusculum opens the 2020 campaign on Feb. 1 at Converse College. The Pioneers and Valkyries have played four times with Tusculum coming out on top in each of those previous encounters. Converse went 6-44 in 2019 and finished last in Conference Carolinas.
The following day (Feb. 2), the Pioneers will square up against Claflin in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The Pioneers swept the 2018 doubleheader against the Panthers in their only meeting. Last season, the Panthers went 37-19 overall and a perfect 18-0 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Claflin won the CIAA's Southern Division title, but lost in the CIAA Tournament final.
On Feb. 7, Tusculum hosts Belmont Abbey in TU's home opener. Tusculum leads the all-time series 5-2 with the Crusaders since first meeting in 2008. Belmont Abbey went 21-22 last year and finished seventh in the Conference Carolinas standings.
Tusculum and Davis & Elkins will square off on Feb. 8 for a second straight season. The Pioneers swept D&E last year by identical 5-4 scores. In 2019, the Senators finished 20-30 overall and 10th in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Valentine's Day will kick off the two-day Bearcat / Fleet Invitational with Lander and Erskine sharing hosting duties, with 20 miles separating the two campuses. On day one, the Pioneers are set to face Belmont Abbey once again and Lander later in the afternoon. Lander holds an 11-8 edge in the series with Tusculum spanning back to 1991. The Bearcats went 21-25 last season and finished ninth in the Peach Belt Conference.
Day two will be spent in Due West, South Carolina. An early morning game against Young Harris will preface Tusculum's tournament finale with Erskine. The YHC Mountain Lions have gone 7-3 against the Pioneers since 2012, including a sweep last year. Young Harris enjoyed its best season in school history as the Mountain Lions went 44-20, won the NCAA II Southeast Region title and finished third at the DII College World Series in Denver, Colorado.
Meanwhile, Tusculum leads the all-time series against Erskine with an 11-3 mark since the first meeting in 2004. The Conference Carolinas regular season champions went 35-14 on the year and 18-4 in league play.
Feb. 19 will mark the inaugural meeting against Emmanuel (Ga.). The Lions went 19-28 last year and placed ninth in Conference Carolinas.
Cedarville comes to Greeneville on Feb. 21 to take on Tusculum for the first time. The Yellow Jackets are coming off of a 33-17 year and a fourth place finish in the G-MAC standings. Cedarville ended the season advancing to the G-MAC Tournament final.
On Feb. 22, in-state foe Lee University will traverse northeast to Greeneville to face Tusculum. Since 1991, the Flames have racked up a 24-16 series lead over the Pioneers. Last year, Lee collected a 22-31 mark and an 11th place finish in the Gulf South Conference.
South Atlantic Conference newcomer UVa-Wise will serve as the league opener for the Pioneers on Feb. 25 as TU travels to the Wise, Virginia campus. Tusculum has won 16 of the previous 20 previous meetings with the Cavaliers. The Pioneers swept the two meetings in 2019, with UVa-Wise concluding the season with a 23-26 record and a 17-15 Mountain East Conference mark.
Tusculum begins a 16-game home-stand on Feb. 26 when they host Southern Wesleyan for a doubleheader at "The Red". Since 1991, Tusculum holds a slight 3-2 edge over the Warriors, including a 2019 split. Southern Wesleyan lost in the Conference Carolinas Tournament final after going 22-20 overall.
On Feb. 29, Goldey-Beacom comes to Greeneville to face Tusculum. The Pioneers have won all three matchups since the first meeting in 2016 with the Lightning. Last season, the Goldey-Beacom finished the year 10-36 and finished 12th in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
Future SAC opponent Limestone starts off the new month on March 4 against the Saints. Limestone holds a 25-24 edge versus Tusculum. The Saints went 23-25 overall and placed eighth in Conference Carolinas.
Tusculum hosts arch-rival Carson-Newman on March 7. The Eagles leads the all-time series 42-12, including a sweep of the Pioneers in 2019. C-N went 29-12 last season and finished in a tie for second place in the SAC standings and ended the year in the NCAA Region Tournament.
North Greenville comes to Red Edmonds Field on Mar. 10 to continue the nearly 20-year series versus Tusculum. The Pioneers have a 15-9 record over the Crusaders. NGU finished in a tie for second in the Conference Carolinas standings and posted an even 24-24 on the year.
The Pioneers will have a rematch with Erskine on March 12 in a doubleheader in Greeneville.
Two days later, Queens University of Charlotte ventures to Tennessee. The Royals lead the series 8-4, improved by a DH sweep of Tusculum last year. Queens ended the year with a 22-15 mark and tied for fifth place in the SAC standings.
Wrapping up the Tusculum homestand on March 18 is Mars Hill. The Pioneers lead the all-time series 41-25 but the Lions swept the doubleheader last year. MHU went 27-18 last year and finished tied for ninth place in the league.
For the first road matchup in nearly a month, the Pioneers head to Coker on March 21 to face the Cobras. Coker leads Tusculum 10-8 and earned a berth in the NCAA Region Tournament with an overall record of 31-19.
In-state foe, Lincoln Memorial hosts the Pioneers on March 25. The Railsplitters lead the all-time series 48-34 with the two teams splitting last year's meetings. LMU finished the year with a 40-15 mark, won the SAC Championship and finished runner up at the NCAA II Southeast Regional.
Tusculum will be at Newberry on Mar. 28 to take on the Wolves. The Pioneers swept the season series to even the all-time series at 22-22. The Wolves went 29-16 and finished runner-up in the SAC regular-season standings.
The Pioneers square off against in-state foe King on April 1. Tusculum has controlled the series with the Tornado, going 39-8 since 1993, including a 2019 season sweep. The Bristol, Tennessee club went 31-21 overall and finished second in Conference Carolinas.
The Catawba Indians are the opponent for the penultimate home SAC doubleheader of the year on April 4. Catawba swept Tusculum in last year to take a 24-22 lead in the series. The Catawba Indians finished the year 22-21 overall.
The Pioneers face the Anderson Trojans on April 7, in a series TU trails 14-12. In 2019, the two teams split their DH as Anderson finished 33-22. The Trojans won the South Atlantic Conference Tournament and ended the season as a Region bracket finalists.
The Lenoir-Rhyne Bears come to town April 10 as L-R holds a 45-8 lead in the all-time series with the Pioneers. In the 2019 season finale, the Bears and Pioneers split its doubleheader in Hickory. Lenoir-Rhyne finished last year with an overall record 26-19.
On April 14, the Pioneers travel to Lees-McRae and will seek to extend their lead in the series, which stands at 27-10. The Bobcats swept Tusculum last season in two close contests, ending the year with a mark of 22-19 overall, and capped off with a Conference Carolinas Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
In Tusculum's final road series, the Pioneers will travel to Wingate on April 18. The Bulldogs leads the series 38-9 but the Pioneers swept last year's two games. Wingate went 32-19 on the year and tied for second place in the conference and earned a berth to the NCAA Region Tournament.
Tusculum will wrap up the regular season against Milligan on April 19. The Pioneers lead the Buffaloes 42-29-1 in the all-time series. Milligan went 25-24 overall and tied for sixth place in the Appalachian Athletic Conference and advanced to the AAC Tournament final.
The NCAA Southeast Regionals will be hosted at the highest seed from May 7-9, while the Super Regionals will be held one week later from May 14-15.
The NCAA Division II Softball Championship will take place May 21-25 in Chattanooga, Tennessee at Frost Stadium at Warner Park. The 3,000-seat facility, also known as "The Field of 1,000 Dreams," serves as the home field for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball program.