Five top-flight NCAA D-I fastpitch teams, including 2016 champion Oklahoma and runner-up Auburn, will launch their 2017 campaigns at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, with three games slated for Thursday, Feb. 9, airing on ESPNU and ESPN3.
Here’s the schedule for the TV games, which are held at the newly remodeled Nancy Almaraz Stadium (all times EST; home team listed second):
Nebraska vs. BYU, 11 a.m. (ESPN3)
Auburn vs. Oklahoma, 2 p.m. (ESPNU)
Washington vs. Auburn, 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
(Note: the BYU-Oklahoma game at 5 p.m. ET will not be televised)
Games will also be available through WatchESPN, accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.
The Auburn-Oklahoma game marks what may be an unprecedented moment in NCAA softball, where the two teams that met for the Women’s College World Series title play each other to start the following season. The Sooners topped the Tigers in the three-game series, 2-1, scoring two runs in the first inning of Game 3 and holding on for a 2-1 victory.
“This unique event features a dream field of teams in a facility and community that will make the fans and players feel special,” said David King, CEO of Triple Crown Sports. “People get to experience the sun, the beach and the opportunity to enjoy authentic Mexico with the best softball teams going. What could be better?”
Session 1 of the Puerto Vallarta Challenge continues with three games on Feb. 10 and three more on Feb. 11.
The Puerto Vallarta College Challenge is the only D-I fastpitch event to be held outside the United States. 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.
Session 2 of the 2017 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge will be held Feb. 16-19, with another accomplished group of teams: Cal-State Fullerton, Florida Gulf Coast, Fresno State, Mississippi State and Texas Tech.
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing events in youth athletics and the college ranks for more than 30 years. TCS runs both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and produces the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge tournaments in November, which have been recognized by Sports Illustrated as a top-5 destination tournament for D-I basketball programs. Triple Crown is also rolling out new “WNIT” concepts in D-I softball and volleyball, beginning in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 1,000-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.