Six early-season tournaments and at least nine NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago highlight the 2008 University of Kansas softball schedule announced Monday.
"We are very excited about the upcoming season and schedule," said head coach Tracy Bunge. "The pre-conference tournament schedule provides us an opportunity to play some of the very best in the country that will prepare us for the always tough Big 12 Conference."
The Jayhawks will head south to open up the 2008 season at the Central Florida Invitational in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 8-9. KU will then jet out west to participate in the UNLV Invitational Feb. 14-17 before going to Carbondale, Ill., for the Southern Illinois Invitational March 1-2.
After a month on the road, Kansas opens its home slate at Arrocha Ballpark March 8-9 when it hosts the KU Invitational. The Jayhawks are slated to go up against Indiana State, Pittsburgh and Western Illinois in the tournament. A week later, Kansas hosts its second tournament, the Jayhawk Invitational, March 14-16, with Louisiana Tech and Buffalo.
"The addition of a second home tournament in March will hopefully result in a fresher team when we open Big 12 play," said Bunge. "I'm excited to see how our young team will handle the challenge."
KU continues its homestand against Bradley March 18 for a doubleheader and opens Big 12 Conference play on March 22 with a pair of games at defending Big 12 Tournament champion Oklahoma.
Kansas will continue its conference schedule through the beginning of May highlighted with games versus 2007 NCAA Tourament teams Baylor (April 5-6), Texas (April 12-13), Missouri (April 16), Texas A&M (April 19-20) and Nebraska (April 30).
The Jayhawks also have doubleheaders scheduled against non-conference opponents Creighton (April 2), another NCAA Tournament team, Arkansas (April 10), UMKC (April 22) and Wichita State (April 24).
The Big 12 Softball Championship takes place at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., and runs from May 8-10. All 10 Big 12 schools that sponsor softball will participate in the three-day, single- elimination tournament with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
Kansas returns 14 letterwinners on a squad that went 33-24-1 in 2007 and 7-11 in Big 12 play.
The Jayhawks open its fall softball schedule Sept. 22 at Arrocha Ballpark in the Kansas Softball Triangular. KU will face Butler Community College, Missouri Southern and Missouri Western during the tournament.