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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia softball coach Eileen Schmidt announced the 2011 softball schedule which features 27 home games at The Park and 25 games with teams which competed in the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Cavaliers return 12 letterwinners, including six starters from the 2010 team that made the first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Virginia compiled an overall record of 34-23 and finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 13-7 mark.

Schmidt is currently in her fourth season at the helm of her alma mater.

“We tried to match the tough preseason schedule from last year again this season,” Schmidt said. “When you are in these tournaments you are in the hands of the schedulers, and they did not disappoint. We are excited to be invited to both the Cathedral City Classic and the ESPN Rise Tournament down at Disney.”

Of the NCAA Tournament participants from last season, both Arizona and Hawaii played in the Women’s College World Series, with the Wildcats advancing onto the championship series. Virginia will face both of those teams on the same day at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.

Four more opponents – Brigham Young, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oregon and Alabama – all participated in the Super Regionals. East Carolina, Hofstra, Fresno State, Illinois State, Long Island, Syracuse, Radford and Fordham – as well as ACC foes Maryland, North Carolina, Florida State and Georgia Tech – all competed in NCAA Regionals last season.

Virginia opens the year Feb 11-12 at Campbell’s Hampton Inn Tournament in Buies Creek, N.C., facing Southern Illinois Edwardsville in the season-opener. The Cavaliers will also meet Drexel and host Campbell in that tournament, the first of four preseason events away from Charlottesville.

UVa heads back to North Carolina Feb. 18-20 for East Carolina’s Pirate Invitational in Greenville, N.C., where it will meet Kent State, Saint John’s, Hofstra and the host Pirates.

The Cavaliers then head west for the prestigious Cathedral City Classic set for Feb. 24-27 in Palm Springs, Calif. In addition to Arizona and Hawaii, Virginia will face BYU, Utah and Fresno State.

“Palm Springs is one of the toughest tournaments in the country,” Schmidt said. “BYU and Fresno State will be amazing games even if we didn’t have World Series participants Hawaii and Arizona in the same day.”

Virginia will conclude its 19-game road swing at the ESPN Rise Tournament at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex March 4-6 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. At that event, the Cavaliers will meet Louisiana-Lafayette, Oregon, Illinois State, Long Island and Alabama.

“The new tournament at Disney could be our toughest draw,” Schmidt said. “ULL returns its All-American pitcher and both Oregon and Alabama had great years last season reaching Supers Regionals.”

UVa returns to Charlottesville for its home-opener against Longwood in a doubleheader on Tuesday, March 8.

The Longwood games serve as a precursor to the UVa Invitational held at The Park March 12-14, where the Cavaliers will face Princeton, Syracuse and Fordham over the three-day event.

“Our home tournament could not be better when it comes to quality,” Schmidt said. “Fordham is the up-and-coming team and Syracuse won the Big East.”

Conference play begins March 19 when Virginia plays host to Boston College in a three-game series. The Cavaliers will also welcome Maryland, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech to Charlottesville for ACC competition, while playing at North Carolina, Florida State and NC State.

“We had a great finish in the ACC last year,” Schmidt said. “I think any team that finishes at the bottom of the conference for two years and then sees its hard work and commitment result in a second-place finish can look in the mirror and be proud of what it has done. The next question is can we continue it. The ACC was very even last year with five teams moving on to postseason, and we were close to getting six. There is no reason this conference cannot do that again this year.”

The 2011 ACC Championship will be held May 12-15 in Atlanta.

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