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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia softball coach Eileen Schmidt announced the team’s 2012 schedule Tuesday which features 20 home games at The Park and 20 games with teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Cavaliers return 13 letterwinners, including eight starters, from the 2011 team that went 24-31 and 5-14 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia also welcomes four newcomers to the roster. Schmidt is currently in her fifth season at the helm of her alma mater.

“We always like to have a challenging schedule early and this year is no different,” Schmidt said. “We play the first three weekends either at home or fairly close to home and we’ll see plenty of solid teams in those first few tournaments. We are also looking forward to playing again at Disney and out in Fullerton at the Judi Garmen Classic where there is always great competition.”

Of the 12 NCAA Tournament opponents Virginia will face this season, Oklahoma advanced all the way to the Women’s College World Series while Oregon was a Super Regional participant. Virginia will face the Ducks for the second consecutive year at the Citrus Classic at the Disney Wide World of Sports March 4 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Cavaliers play the Sooners at the Judi Garmen Classic March 17 in Fullerton, Calif.

East Carolina, Fordham, Penn State, Syracuse, Fresno State, Michigan and Liberty, as well as ACC foes Georgia Tech, Florida State and Maryland, all competed in NCAA Regionals last season.

Virginia opens the year at the East Carolina Pirate Invitational Feb. 10-12 in Greenville, N.C., where it faces the host Pirates twice as well as Drexel and Canisius. The Cavaliers then return to East Carolina the following weekend, Feb. 17-19, for another game with ECU as well as Fordham, Hofstra and UNC Greensboro.

Virginia will play host to the Cavalier Invitational Feb. 24-26 for its first home games of 2012. UVa opens with a doubleheader vs. Ohio on Feb. 24 and will also face Colgate and Saint Joseph’s that weekend.

The Cavaliers return to the Citrus Classic (March 2-4) for the second straight year where the Orange and Blue take on Penn State, St. John’s, Syracuse and South Alabama in addition to its contest with Oregon.

Virginia revisits the Judi Garmen Classic for the second time in three years. In addition to facing Oklahoma, the Cavaliers will also play UC Davis, Fresno State, Iowa and Michigan.

Conference play begins March 10 with a three-game series at Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers then continue ACC action at home vs. Florida State March 24. Virginia will square off against North Carolina and NC State at home while visiting Boston College, Maryland and Virginia Tech.

“The ACC was a pretty young league last season,” Schmidt said. “It will be exciting to see what all that young talent can do with another year of experience. It should be a great year in the conference.”

The 2012 ACC Championship will be held May 10-13 at North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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