POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - Coming off a 2012 season, in which it qualified for its second consecutive MAAC Conference Tournament, the Marist softball team announced its 2013 schedule on Wednesday. With seven starting players returning from a squad that won 28 games, head coach Joe Ausanio is excited about this year's schedule "we will see a lot of new teams, as well as some very good programs. It's a challenging schedule, but I have no doubt the Red Foxes are up for the challenge."

The squad begins its 55-game campaign on March 2 with four games at Norfolk State in the host's 2013 Spartan Classic. In Virginia, the Red Foxes will face-off with Delaware, Army and the host Spartans with a pair of games on Saturday, as well as Sunday.

The following weekend, Marist will head south again; this time to Baltimore and the UMBC Dawg Pound Invitational. In the three-day tournament that runs from March 8 to 10, the Red Foxes will play George Washington, Howard, Mount St. Mary's, Rhode Island and the host Retrievers.

After nine games on the East Coast, the Red Foxes will pack their bags and head out west for 10 days of action in California, Utah and Colorado over Spring Break. The first tournament that they'll participate in is the San Diego Classic II hosted by San Diego State. Beginning on March 15 with games versus Bryant and UNLV, Marist will go on to play the University of San Diego, San Jose State on March 16 and eventually Texas Tech on March 17.   

Two single mid-week games in Utah, versus Brigham Young on March 19 and Utah Valley on March 20 break up the Red Foxes' tournament action before concluding their trip with five games at the Colorado State Spring Tournament from March 22 to 24. In Fort Collins, Marist will play Ball State twice, Columbia twice and host Colorado State once.

Of note, the Red Foxes will face a pair 2012 NCAA Tournament teams on the trip: Texas Tech and BYU. Also their March 19 game at BYU will be broadcast on BYUtv. BYUtv is available on Dish Network channel 9403, DirecTV channels 374 and 68 and is also carried by nearly 600 cable TV providers. Viewers will also be able watch BYUtv live in the United States through video-on-demand at http://byutv.org

A few days after returning from their trip out west, the Red Foxes will jump right back into action with a trio of non-conference doubleheaders leading up to MAAC play. On March 27, Marist will meet Hudson Valley rival Army at West Point. The following week on April 4, the Red Foxes will make a trip to Hempstead, Long Island to take on the Pride of Hofstra, a squad who came just one run short of making the Women's College World Series; they were tripped up by South Florida, 2-1 in the decisive Game Three of the Super Regional. The third doubleheader will see Marist head down to New Jersey to face off with the Seton Hall Pirates.

Conference play begins on Sunday, April 7 with a clash of MAAC Semifinalists as the Red Foxes open their 2013 home schedule with a twinbill versus Fairfield at Gartland Field.

After a non-conference mid-week doubleheader versus Lafayette, it's back to MAAC action with a pair of road meetings in Western New York at Canisius and Niagara.

A road doubleheader at Columbia on April 16 and a home doubleheader versus Colgate on April 18 break up conference play for the Red Foxes. That weekend, they will host reigning MAAC Champion Iona on Saturday and Rider on Sunday.

Following a doubleheader in Worcester, Mass. versus Holy Cross on April 23, Marist will close out the road portion of its regular season schedule with consecutive twinbills at Manhattan and Saint Peter's.

Two non-conference matchups, versus Yale and Hartford, will lead into the Red Foxes' final home doubleheader of the year against Siena on Sunday, May 5. Prior to the contest, Marist's graduating class of 2013 will be recognized by the program and athletic department.

The 2013 MAAC Tournament will once again be hosted by Marist College. The top four regular season teams will meet in a double elimination championship tournament beginning on Thursday, May 9 and running through Saturday, May 11.

2012 All-MAAC Honorees, senior Danielle Koltz (Chenango Bridge, N.Y.) and junior Alyssa Zahka (Lexington, Mass.) lead an offense that returns six starters, including juniors Haley Birnbaum (Lido Beach, N.Y.) and Aly Klemmer (Hamilton, N.J.) and sophomore Taylor Kuzma (Freehold, N.J.), each of whom picked up their level of play exponentially over the last month of the season.

The entire pitching staff returns as 2011 All-MAAC second teamer senior Emily Osterhaus (Suwanee, Ga.) heads up a group of four athletes, who will step in the circle for the Red Foxes. Sophomores Melanie White (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Janine Lalli (Eastchester, N.Y.) and junior Paige Lewis (Temecula, Calif.) will once again suit up for Marist.