(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai'i softball team—which is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this spring—released its 2019 schedule on Tuesday. This year's slate features 51 games against 26 teams representing 13 different conferences. Hawai'i will play 37 of its games at home at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Hawai'i will face a diverse docket of opponents, including eight teams that advanced to the 2018 NCAA tournament and five teams who finished the year either ranked or receiving votes in the final NFCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll, including UCLA, Alabama, California, Long Beach State, and Cal State Fullerton. Hawai'i will host four non-conference tournaments this spring.
Softball fans will get their first glimpse of the 2019 Rainbow Wahine squad on Saturday, Feb. 2 with the program's annual Alumnae Game. One week later, the 'Bows will officially open the season hosting the six-team Paradise Classic tournament (Feb. 7-9) featuring UT-Arlington, Georgia State, Saint Mary's (CA), former WAC rival Fresno State and perennial PAC-12 power, UCLA.
The 'Bows will then hit the road for their annual roadtrip to Las Vegas, Nev. where they will compete in UNLV's nine-team tournament from Feb. 14-16. Hawai'i will take on BYU, Fordham, UTEP, Weber State and Seattle U. All games will be played at the Stephanie Lynn Craig Softball Complex.
Hawai'i will then return home to host three consecutive tournaments, the Hawai'i Invitational (Feb. 21-23), the Outrigger Resorts Spring Fling Tournament (March 6-10) and the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic (March 13-16).
Prior to the Hawaii Invitational, UH will play a single game against former WAC foe, New Mexico on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The Invitational starts the following day with Canisius, DePaul and New Mexico all coming to Honolulu. On Sunday, Feb. 24, the 'Bows will play a doubleheader outside of the tournament games, first facing Canisius then DePaul at 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. respectively.
After a nine-day break, UH will then play 12 games in 11 days, starting with the six-team Outrigger Resorts Spring Fling Tournament which will feature Niagara, St. Bonaventure, SIU-Edwardsville, and PAC-12 powers California and Utah. The 'Bows will play two single games against Southern Illinois on Monday, March 11 and Utah on Tuesday, March 12. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
Hawai'i will finish its non-conference schedule with the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic which will feature two hold-overs from the previous tournament—SIUE and Niagara and SEC power, Alabama.
The Rainbow Wahine will host four of its seven Big West series this season. UH will be hosting Long Beach State (March 29-30), UC Santa Barbara (April 12-13), UC Riverside (April 26-27) and UC Davis (May 9-10).
"We're excited and look forward to playing teams from all across the nation," head coach Bob Coolen said. "Once again, we will be playing a very competitive schedule, both home and away against Power-Five conference teams such as UCLA, California, Utah, and Alabama. We will also be rekindling old rivalries against former WAC teams Fresno State, BYU, UTEP and New Mexico. We are working hard and preparing for an exciting season in 2019."
The Rainbow Wahine program began 35 years ago this spring back in 1985. In this anniversary year, the 'Bows have 24 players on its roster—including five newcomers plus one redshirt from last season. Hawai'i returns 18 letterwinners who are looking to improve upon last year's 23-27 overall record. The team will be led by redshirt senior pitcher Brittany Hitchcock and UH's two all-Big West selections from 2018, senior third baseman Nicole Lopez and junior catcher/designated player Callee Heen.