Tournament officials have outlined the game schedule for the 10-team field of high-caliber D-I fastpitch programs making up the 2017 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, set for two sessions (Feb. 9-11 and Feb. 16-19).
This preseason event brings together several of the most accomplished teams in the sport, with games to be played at the newly refurbished Nancy Almaraz Stadium. Session 1 features 2016 NCAA champion Oklahoma and fellow finalist Auburn, top-10 RPI mainstay Washington, along with Nebraska and BYU; Session 2 will showcase Florida Gulf Coast, Fresno State, Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Cal-State Fullerton.
“The opening session is the finest five-team field of teams to ever face each other in a preseason event. Watching Oklahoma and Auburn play on the heels of their NCAA championship matchup will get your pulse racing, and fans will be thrilled to see this collection of superior athletes in such an intimate setting,” said David King, event director and CEO of Triple Crown Sports. “Session 2 is not a pushover, either. Several of those teams were factors in their conferences last season, and they will give each other a stern test at the start of the year, which is what fans and coaches love to see.”
“It’s a thrill for our program to get this unique opportunity and to experience a different culture through softball,” said Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso, who claimed her third national title with the Sooners in beating Auburn. “It’s our first time ever leaving the country, and I’m so confident in the first-class approach of Triple Crown Sports that I never hesitated in committing to the trip. The field of teams is phenomenal, and we are so excited about kicking off our 2017 season in Puerto Vallarta.”
Session #1 (all times local, USA Central Time):
Feb. 9: Nebraska vs. BYU, 10 a.m.
Auburn vs. Oklahoma, 1 p.m.
BYU vs. Oklahoma, 4 p.m.
Washington vs. Auburn, 7 p.m.
Feb. 10: Oklahoma vs. Nebraska, 11 a.m.
Auburn vs. Nebraska, 2 p.m.
Washington vs. BYU, 7 p.m.
Feb. 11: BYU vs. Auburn, 10 a.m.
Nebraska vs. Washington, 12:45 p.m.
Oklahoma vs. Washington, 3:30 p.m.
Session #2: (all times local, USA Central Time):
Feb. 16: Fresno State vs. Mississippi State, 10 a.m.
Fresno State vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 1 p.m.
Texas Tech vs. Cal-State Fullerton, 4 p.m.
Texas Tech vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 7 p.m.
Feb. 17: Mississippi State vs. Cal-State Fullerton, 10 a.m.
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Cal-State Fullerton, 1 p.m.
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Fresno State, 4 p.m.
Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech, 7 p.m.
Feb. 18: Cal-State Fullerton vs. Texas Tech, 9 a.m.
Cal-State Fullerton vs. Fresno State, 11:45 a.m.
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Mississippi State, 2:30 p.m.
Feb. 19: Texas Tech vs. Fresno State, 9:00 a.m.
Teams and their fans will experience a fully renovated ballpark with new lights; 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 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.