NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack softball team will open the 2010 season Friday when the Ladyjacks begin play in the Mississippi State Bulldog Round-Robin. SFA will take on North Texas Friday, then play a doubleheader against UAB and Mississippi State on Saturday before wrapping up tournament play Sunday against an opponent to be determined.
The Ladyjacks' game against North Texas is set for a 1 p.m. start and is the first of three contests against the Mean Green over the next six days. SFA will host North Texas in a doubleheader next Wednesday to open the new Ladyjack Softball Field.
Friday's game will kick off a season of high expectations for SFA. The Ladyjacks are projected to finish second in the Southland Conference after returning a slew of all-conference honorees from the 2009 campaign. SFA leads the Southland with five preseason First-Team All-SLC selections - Kayla Gutowski, Briana Bishop, Ashley Struchtemeyer, Kendal Harper and Monika Covington. Harper, Covington, Bishop and Gutowski were all first-teamers in postseason balloting a year ago, with Gutowski taking the Hitter of the Year tag.
SFA is coming off a 29-27 season in 2009. The Ladyjacks went 17-12 in Southland play to finish fourth in the conference. North Texas posted a 26-28 record last year and finished fifth in the Sun Belt Conference with an 11-12 mark. UAB went 21-34 overall last season and had an 8-16 record in Conference-USA to finish eighth. Mississippi State is coming off a 2009 season that saw the Bulldogs go 28-28 overall with an 8-19 record to finish fifth in the SEC West.