The Golden Eagles’ schedule will open up with Cedarville, which will commence a barnstorming bus trip that will take UMC through 11 states in 10 days.

The Minnesota, Crookston softball team will open up its first season under new head coach Ed Deugan March 15 with a doubleheader against Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.

Deugan was hired to be the head coach in August. He has been a head coach at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, S.C. from 2008-11, Andrew College in Cuthbert, Ga., from 2001-04 and Westminster College in 2000. In addition, he has been an assistant at the NCAA Division I level at both Colgate University and Tennessee State University. Deugan will be assisted this season by UMC career strikeout leader Steph Thomas, who served as an assistant last season under Mitch Bakken and will continue to serve in that role in 2013.

The Golden Eagles’ schedule will open up with Cedarville, which will commence a barnstorming bus trip that will take UMC through 11 states in 10 days. After playing the Yellowjackets March 15, the Golden Eagles will head to Barbourville, Ky. March 17 for a doubleheader versus Union College. Their trek will continue to Brevard, N.C. March 18 to take on the Brevard College Tornados. March 19, UMC will head to Young Harris, Ga., to take on Young Harris College. The road trip will continue March 20 against Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C. The final games of the spring break trip will take place in West Point, Ga. March 22 versus Point University.

The Golden Eagles’ NSIC slate will begin at home March 26 against Bemidji State University. UMC will also host Augustana College (April 6), Wayne State College (April 7), University of Minnesota Duluth (April 16), Northern State University (April 20), Minnesota State University, Mankato (April 21), Winona State University (April 27) and Upper Iowa University (April 28).

Coach Deugan inherited a very experienced lineup that includes the return of eight starters at the plate from the 2012 season. In the circle, the Golden Eagles return two pitchers who logged more than 87 innings a season ago.

Paige Schaust (Jr., OF/P, Delano, Minn.), an NSIC Player to Watch, is the leading returner at the plate as she hit .348 with 11 runs scored and 16 runs batted in a season ago. In addition, Courtney Bridge (So., SS, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) returns at the plate after hitting .319 including six doubles. Also returning are Stacey Marcum (Sr., P, Merrill, Wis.), Sara Wiedmaier (Sr., 1B, Marengo, Ill.), Shelby Hollinger (So., IF/OF, Neudorf, Saskatchewan), Sammy Berglin (Jr., Alexandria, Minn.), Josee Plante (So., Manitou, Manitoba) and Hilary Brown (Sr., OF, Mosinee, Wis.), all who started more than 25 games last year.

In the circle, Schaust and Marcum were UMC’s leading innings getters last year as Schaust went 3-8 with a 4.41 earned runs average in 87.1 innings pitched. Marcum, also an NSIC Player to Watch, was 5-19 with a 7.19 ERA in 122.2 innings pitched. Brooke Vatthauer (So., P/1B, Crookston, Minn.) also saw some time at pitcher. The Crookston-product posted a 1.47 ERA with one win in 14.1 innings pitched.

In addition to a plethora of returnees, the Golden Eagles will also get help from 10 newcomers as Allison Foley (3B/OF, Lockport, Ill.), Kendra Pahl (Fr., UT, Salinas, Calif.), Jessica Ramos (C/3B, El Paso, Texas), Ciara Rivera (IF/P, Rosemount, Minn.), Kaylin Beatty (Fr., UT, Andover, Minn.), Alexis Khoshaba (Fr., Richmond, British Columbia), Ashley Manusos (Jr., OF/IF, Spring Grove, Ill.), Cateline Fafard (Jr., P, Dauphin, Manitoba), Brooke Timmins (Fr., C/1B, Magnolia, Texas) and Jordan Novacek (Fr., UT, Fargo, N.D.) all join the fray.