Ball State softball (14-15) kicks off its Mid-American Conference play this weekend against Miami (14-11).

The team's schedule up to this point has been one of the toughest Ball State has ever played, and all 28 of its games have been on the road. The Cardinals have played top-25 opponents seven times since the beginning of the season. 

Weekend Schedule vs. Miami

Friday, March 25 — 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 26 — 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 26 — 3:00 p.m.

While the Cardinals have yet to beat a ranked opponent this season, head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett says playing against tough competition is key for preparing for MAC play.

“We played super tough competition and I think seeing different types and all different types of pitching has helped us,” Bartlett said.

In conference play last season, the Cardinals won the MAC tournament as well at the MAC West Division title with a 34-25 overall and 14-5 conference record.

Ball State played in an NCAA regional game where it took on and beat No. 21 Notre Dame, the same team who beat them on March 6 this season.

The Cardinals are now 14-15 and expect to build upon last year's success.

“They take a lot of pride in winning the MAC and they expect nothing less than winning a regular season and tournament title,” Bartlett said. “Playing deep into a regional is something that they’re capable of. If we’re playing the way we’re capable of, if we’re executing the way I know we can, then we’re going to be in great shape.”

In the most recent MAC standings, Ball State is ranked third in the MAC West behind Northern Illinois (19-7) and Central Michigan (13-12). None of the teams in the conference have played a conference game yet. 

Bartlett, in her first season at Ball State, is excited to play top MAC opponents like Kent State and Central Michigan and about the overall challenge the MAC will present.

“Knowing the MAC, there’s always a dark horse that comes out of nowhere, but I expect that this program will win the MAC conference,” she said. “Now it’s time to put our money where our mouth is and play the way we’re capable of.”

Ball State beings MAC play this weekend with three games against Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The team will return home for the first time on Friday, April 8 against Buffalo in a three-game series.