FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A talented group of 10 NCAA D-I softball programs has been secured for the third Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, which will take place in February of 2018 in two sessions at the refurbished Nancy Almaraz Stadium.
Produced by Triple Crown Sports, the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge brings high-caliber softball teams into an intimate setting for a unique warm-weather kickoff to the spring season.
Session 1 – Feb. 8-10
James Madison (CAA)
Long Beach State (Big West)
Louisiana Tech (C-USA)
Session 2 – Feb. 15-18
Ole Miss (SEC)
Rutgers (Big Ten)
Texas (Big 12)
Game times and matchups will be announced on Wednesday, August 9 at Noon ET.
While the competitive flavor of the event speaks for itself, tournament officials have made sure to secure plentiful lodging for fans to make the trip down to support their favorite team. Travel packages are available through numerous villas in the city as well as at the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort, located right on the beach and within walking distance of the stadium.
Teams and their fans will experience a fully renovated ballpark with new lights, and an internet/wifi friendly media/press row. Work on the stadium (which sits barely ¼ a mile from the beach) was accomplished through a partnership with the city of Puerto Vallarta and Triple Crown Sports.
“The secret has slipped out on the magic of playing ball in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in February,” said Triple Crown CEO and tournament director David King. “In 2018, we have landed six perennial top 20 teams and a strong group of recent contenders.”
Six of the teams in the 2018 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge earned berths in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Oregon (47-6) earned the overall No. 3 seed and Ole Miss (40-18) was No. 12. Georgia (33-21), James Madison (50-6), Louisiana Tech (37-22) and Texas (31-24) also made the 64-team field; Nevada (28-23) made the cut for the inaugural NISC.
“We are excited about making the trip to Puerto Vallarta in 2018. With the talented field that we will have, this should be another week for us to prepare for our 2018 SEC schedule,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Smith. “Our players and staff know that this is a once-in-a-softball-career trip, but its ‘business’ and that how we will approach the week. I’m sure we will have some down time and the players will get to enjoy Puerto Vallarta at its finest, but when we step on the field to play softball, Ole Miss will be ready!”
The inaugural Puerto Vallarta College Challenge was held in 2015, featuring the teams from BYU, Nevada, Northern Colorado and Southern Illinois. Those were the first fastpitch games in NCAA history played outside the United States.
The 2017 event opened the eyes of the college softball world about the strength and competitive impact of the event. Session 1 featured Auburn, BYU, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington; Session 2 featured Cal State Fullerton, Florida Gulf Coast, Fresno State, Mississippi State and Texas Tech.