A highlight is an April visit to LSU, a 2012 Women's College World Series team. NSU will compete in four regular-season tournaments, including those hosted by 2012 NCAA Tournament entry Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi, and the Lady Demon Invitational March 1-3 including north Louisiana rivals Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech. That is the home debut for Northwestern.
The Lady Demons host the conference tournament May 9-10 at the Lady Demon Diamond. The construction of a brand new grandstand, concession stand and press box has begun, and will be completed during the season.
"We're really excited about this season, and the opponents we are facing," said Pickett. "We've chosen some great tournaments to get involved in; the competition will put the team to the test, and get us prepared for conference play."
The conference season begins Mar. 9 at McNeese with the first home Southland series the next weekend, March 16-17, against Nicholls. League play shifts back to the traditional three-game series this year, with a Saturday doubleheader and a Sunday finale.
The Lady Demons will open their season on the road Feb. 8 at the ULM Mardi Gras Classic when they face Mississippi Valley State.
NSU will meet UC Santa Barbara at the Mardi Gras Classic. Last season, the Gauchos finished second in the Big West Conference, posting a 30-28 overall record, 15-6 in conference play.
The Lady Demons take on host Mississippi State at the Bulldog Classic on Feb. 16. The Bulldogs earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament last season, falling to BYU and Portland State in the regional round of play.
A break in conference play takes place on Apr. 24 when the Lady Demons travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU. The Lady Tigers made a trip to the Women's College World Series last season, eliminated by No. 2 Arizona State and ending the season 40-25 overall, 24-7 in the SEC.
NSU is led by junior shortstop Tara McKenney, who won All-Southland Conference second-team and SLC All-Academic second-team accolades last year. She led the Lady Demons and finished third in the conference with 58 hits and a .358 batting average.
Senior pitcher Kylie Roos will lead from the mound after earning All-Southland Conference honorable mention last spring. Also back is another senior pitcher, Brooke Boening.
Sophomore catcher Cassandra Barefield earned All-Louisiana second-team honors as a freshman. She cranked out eight home runs last season, including two in the season finale against North Texas. In 2012, she produced 26 RBI and crossed the plate 16 times.
"The season is slowly creeping up on us, and we couldn't be more antsy to get the team out on the field," said Pickett.