Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 schedules are here for all Mountain West softball teams

Every Mountain West softball team has released its 2017 schedule, and there isn't a whole lot of surprise as perennial powers Fresno State and San Diego State have embraced high quality slates full of marquee non-conference opponents.

Here's a quick look at each MW team's slate in 2017 by clicking on each link:  Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Colorado State, UNLV, Boise State, New Mexico, Utah State, and Nevada.

Two-time defending Mountain West champion Fresno State gets the season started with a bang, meeting reigning Pac-12 champ Oregon on the opening day of the campaign.  The Bulldogs will face two Pac-12 and two Big Ten teams on the first weekend of the 2017 season, and coach Linda Garza's squad will face 15 games against power conference teams, meeting at least one from all five power conferences.

Notable opponents for the Bulldogs include Oregon State (twice), Washington, California (twice), Mississippi State, Texas Tech, BYU (twice), Minnesota, Northwestern, Stanford, Purdue, Indiana (twice), Iowa, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, among others.

San Diego State, much like the Bulldogs, starts the season against a strong slate, and will meet longtime power UCLA on the opening day of the 2017 campaign.  SDSU faces a demanding schedule that includes Washington, Notre Dame, Florida State, BYU, Utah, Oklahoma State, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton and more.

Fresno State and San Diego State will also battle it out in what could be the season's most pivotal Mountain West series on the opening weekend of conference play, March 17-19.  The Bulldogs, who swept the Aztecs a year ago on their way to a record-setting 22-1 league record, travel to San Diego to begin Mountain West play.

San Jose State, which struggled by going 11-17 in non-conference action a season ago, has eased up a bit on its 2017 schedule.  Games against Oregon, Utah and BYU are still on the docket, but overall this is a far more manageable slate this time around.

The Spartans, no longer playing their home games on campus, will have 11 "home" games at nearby Santa Clara University.  A 3-game "home" series with Nevada will be played on the campus of the University of the Pacific Tigers in Stockton.

Colorado State will play a high number of home games for a team in a cold climate, as 26 games are set to be played in Fort Collins.  CSU has compiled one of its stronger overall slates in recent memory, facing -- among others -- Texas Tech (twice), Texas (twice), Minnesota, Wisconsin (twice), Maryland (twice) and Penn State (twice).  The Rams will host both Fresno State and San Diego State this season.

Las Vegas will be the site of a lot of home games this season as UNLV hosts 28 contests.  The Rebels host three tourneys and get to face the likes of Virginia Tech, Louisville and DePaul all at home.  UNLV will meet Oregon State twice in Corvallis, and participate in a tournament in Honolulu where it will face Hawai'i twice and Oregon once.

Boise State will begin the 2017 season a day before most other teams around the nation, opening up on Thursday, February 9, at the Hawai'i Paradise Classic against the host Rainbow Wahine.  The Broncos will face always-tough UAB and Memphis this season, along with a pair of games each against up-and-coming Weber State and Idaho State.

The Lobos of New Mexico have released a 2017 schedule that -- on the surface at least -- appears to be less daunting than in the past.  Texas A&M is the biggest name on a non-conference slate that includes two games vs. New Mexico State in the Rio Grande Rivalry series, as well as matchups against Texas State, Missouri State and UC Riverside.  Texas A&M is the only team from a power conference the Lobos will face this season.

New Mexico will be the only MW team not to open conference play on March 17, as the Lobos will have a bye that weekend before opening league action March 24 at UNLV.

Two games against in-state rival BYU (one home, one away) highlight the 2017 schedule of Utah State.  Among the bigger names on the Aggies' slate this season:  Cal State Fullerton, Summit League power North Dakota State, Texas State and Memphis.

Nevada will count among its 2017 schedule highlights a rare 3-game, non-conference road series at Kansas.  That series takes place in late April in Lawrence during the middle of Mountain West play.  The Wolf Pack will also meet the likes of Hawai'i, Utah, BYU, Memphis, Iowa State and more during a schedule that is a step up in competition from its 2016 non-conference slate.