Three opponents that reached the 2017 NCAA Division II Softball Championship and eight matchups against teams that played in conference tournament championship games highlight the Lander softball team's 2018 schedule.
It'll be the third season for the Bearcats under the direction of head coach Glen Crawford. Lander is searching for its second Peach Belt Conference Tournament appearance in three years and its first NCAA Tournament bid in program history.
"We have a good mix of non-conference and conference games," Crawford said of the schedule. I think we've got some good matchups in non-conference play that should get us prepared and ready for the always tough and rigorous Peach Belt."
The season starts for the Bearcats Feb. 1 at home against Mars Hill before going on the road to take on a Coker team that won 41 games and advanced to the SAC Tournament Championship last season on Feb. 7.
From there, Lander hosts the Bearcat Classic on Feb. 9-10, where the Bearcats are scheduled to face Emmanuel and Southern Wesleyan. Lander follows with a trip to Wingate on Feb. 15.
The Bearcats open a 10-game home stretch on Feb. 17 against Lees-McRae before welcoming 2017 NCAA Tournament participant Claflin to Doug Spears Field on Feb. 18. Lander wraps up the month of February with home contests against Queens and Tusculum before opening PBC play against Francis Marion on March 4.
Spring break hits the week of March 5-11 and Lander will be spending it in Florida with four games on the docket. On March 8, the Bearcats will take Eckerd before returning to conference action against Flagler, last season's PBC Tournament runner-up, on March 10.
From there, Lander faces non-conference opponents Newberry at home and Converse on the road. The Bearcats follow with road trips to Columbus State and Georgia Southwestern on March 24-25.
Lander returns home to battle rival Erksine on March 28. The Bearcats end the month by hosting 2017 PBC champion and NCAA Super Regional participant North Georgia on March 31.
April opens with a trip to Augusta on April 7 and a home set against Georgia College on April 8. Lander begins a season-long eight-game road stretch at USC Aiken on April 13. The Bearcats then face three non-conference opponents in Catawba, Emmanuel and Southern Wesleyan.
2017 NCAA Tournament participant Young Harris comes to Greenwood on April 21, followed by UNC Pembroke on April 28 on Senior Day to wrap up the regular season.
The 2018 Peach Belt Conference Tournament will be held May 4-5 in Dahlonega, Ga. The tournament will feature a singe-elimination format for the top eight teams in the league. Lander played in the PBC Tournament in 2016, earning its last win in 2010.
"It's going to be a tough conference again this year," said Crawford. "Hopefully, we're prepared and ready to go."