WICHITA, Kansas – Head coach Kristi Bredbenner and the Wichita State softball team opened its first day of practice Monday, Jan. 11, inside the Bombardier Learjet Indoor Practice Facility.
“Defensively, I always expect a little bit of rust,” Bredbenner said. “That’s the one area that is hard to find the most space and be able to get some ground balls and make a throw all at the same time. I thought we had some pretty good swings for our first day back and a pretty good foundation to get us started.
“I think it went pretty well,” senior Cacy Williams said. “It showed that we had been working over winter. We have some stuff to work on defensively but overall, I thought it went very well.”
The Shockers will begin their 2016 season on Friday, Feb. 12 against Colorado State in College Station, Texas.
WSU returns 15 players including seniors, Paige Mason, Brittany Fortner, Cacy Williams, Ashlynne Neil and Liz Broyles. WSU is also returning eight starters from last season. The Shockers finished the 2015 season with a 34-23 overall record and 16-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Head softball coach Kristi Bredbenner also announced the 2016 softball schedule on Monday.
After beginning the season in College Station, Texas in a tournament with Colorado State, UCLA, and Texas A&M, the Shockers remain on the road for the rest of February, attending two more tournaments. The first of these tournaments is on Feb. 19-21 and is hosted by UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada. Teams in this tournament include, Utah, Hawai’i, Cal State Northridge, Oregon State, Boise State. The Shockers will then travel to Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 26-28 to play Dartmouth, South Alabama and Bowling Green twice.
“We kick it off at the beginning with a pretty tough tournament,” Bredbenner said. “I think we have a little bit more balanced schedule this year with some good teams that we should compete with.”
March 5-6, the Shockers travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to play three games against the Cornhuskers. In their final game before the Shockers return home, WSU will travel to Oklahoma State to take on the Cowgirls on March 9.
When the Shockers return home, they host their annual Shocker Classic on March 12-13, where the Shockers will play Northern Colorado three times during that span.
Following the Shocker Classic, the WSU will have one game to get ready to begin Missouri Valley Conference play, as they host Western Illinois (March 15).
“Our focus is the middle of March,” Bredbenner said. “We start out against Northern Iowa and need to put ourselves in a position to be ready to play in the conference.
Wichita State then begins Missouri Valley Conference play on March 19-20, hosting Northern Iowa for three games before Oklahoma State travels to Wichita to play the Shockers on March 23.
The Shockers then finish out their long home stand, hosting Loyola Chicago (March 25-26) and drive to Lawrence, Kan. to take on Kansas (March 29), before heading back home to host Tulsa (March 30).
Back on the road to begin the month of April, the Shockers travel to Bloomington, Ill., for three games against Illinois State on April 2-3. WSU will travel to Norman, Okla., to take on the Oklahoma Sooners (April 6), before heading to Evansville for three games (April 9-10).
The Shockers face Missouri in a double-header on April 13, before heading home to host Bradley in a three-game series on April 16-17.
Wichita State then travels to Missouri State for a double-header (April 20), then to Drake for a three game series, (April 23-24).
Missouri State (April 26), and Southern Illinois (May 7-8) round out the Shockers home game for the 2016 season while Tulsa (April 27) and Indiana State (April 30-May 1) are the Shockers final away games of the regular season.
The Missouri Valley Conference Tourney will be held in Carbondale, Ill. (May 12-14).