By ZACH BOND
GREELEY – The Northern Colorado softball program and coach Mark Montgomery announced the Bears’ fall exhibition schedule on Wednesday. The schedule features four tournaments – including three at home – and the annual Alumni Game.
Over four weekends, the Bears will take on several Colorado schools and some other high-level community and junior colleges.
Montgomery is hoping the fall can give him and the rest of his staff a first look at some of the Bears’ newcomers as well as give more experience to a team full of sophomores.
“The first thing fall offers is the chance for us to really evaluate our new players and how they mesh into the system,” Montgomery said. “They will have had a few weeks of practice and we can start to see how they’re going to challenge for positions and fit into particular roles. But above everything else, we get to see how those new players react when they’re first thrown into live action and they actually have to compete for those positions.
“The fall also gives us a chance to get another look at the returning players and see how they worked over the summer. Obviously, this year we have to find a catcher to replace Erin Wilkinson, a centerfielder to replace Erin Geddis and a first baseman/third baseman to replace Alex Neely so we have to look at several people and find the right fits at those spots.”
With a roster that looks a lot different from the freshmen-filled one of last year, Montgomery hopes the learning curve is shorter this fall.
“Now, instead of returning three or four starters like last year, we are returning six or seven starters,” Montgomery said. “I’m hoping we will look a lot smoother and we’ll be able to hit the ground running this year.”
Northern Colorado will open the fall season on Sunday, Sept. 23 with the only road tournament on its schedule – making the short trip north to Fort Collins to play in the Triple Crown College Tournament. During the Triple Crown Tournament, the Bears will take on Dodge City (Kan.) Community College and Trinidad State (Colo.) Junior College.
The next weekend kicks off a stretch of three straight home tournaments. On Saturday, Sept. 30, the Bears will play both Metro State and Colorado School of Mines at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively.
On Sunday, Oct. 7 Northern Colorado will take on Otero Junior College and Colorado Christian before wrapping up tournament play on Saturday, Oct. 13 with home games against Colorado School of Mines and Western Nebraska Community College.
The fall exhibition season wraps up on Sunday, Oct. 14 when the Bears will take on former softball stars in the annual Alumni Game starting at 10 a.m.
All home games will take place at the Butler-Hancock Softball Field.