NEWARK, Del. – The University of Delaware softball team will open its season against national power UCLA at the Hawaii Paradise Classic and will face three nationally ranked squads as the Blue Hens’ 2014 challenging schedule was announced on Friday.

The Blue Hens will face three teams ranked in the fall’s Softball Poll, and will take on six squads that advanced to the 2013 NCAA tournament.

Delaware will play 21 home games this season, including the home tournament on Mar. 13-16 and nine contests against Colonial Athletic Association opponents.

The Blue Hens, led by fourth-year head coach Jaime Wohlbach, open the campaign with five games in Hawaii on Feb. 6-8, including the season-opener against 11-time national champion UCLA. Delaware will also face Hampton and the host Rainbow Wahine in the tournament, as the Blue Hens will play their first ever games in the state of Hawaii.

All three UD opponents in the season-opening invitational advanced to the 2013 NCAA tournament, while UCLA is ranked No. 19 and Hawaii is picked No. 25 in the preseason poll.

The following weekend UD will travel to Orlando to participate in the UCF/Holiday Inn Classic on Feb. 14-15, as the Blue Hens will face Illinois-Chicago, Central Florida, Middle Tennessee State and Florida A&M. Delaware will head back to Orlando the next weekend, when the Blue Hens take on Houston Baptist, Lehigh, Northern Illinois, Georgia and East Carolina at the Citrus Classic on Feb. 21-23.

The second trip south will be another challenging weekend for the Blue Hens, as Georgia is ranked No. 22 in the preseason poll while Lehigh has won seven of the last 10 Patriot League championships.

UD then makes its annual appearance in the Norfolk State Spartan Classic, where the Blue Hens will battle UMBC, Monmouth and Norfolk State on Mar. 1-2. The following weekend the Hens make the short trip south to Baltimore, as Delaware will face Rider, Buffalo, Coppin State and Rhode Island on Mar. 7-8 in the Coppin State Tournament.

The Blue Hens will then open their home schedule on Mar. 13-16 when they host the third annual University of Delaware Spring Invitational, welcoming Robert Morris, St. John’s, Cornell and Villanova to the UD Softball Stadium.

Delaware remains home on Mar. 19 to host Saint Joseph’s in a doubleheader, before welcoming CAA newcomer College of Charleston for a three-game series in Newark on Mar. 22-23. The homestand concludes on Mar. 26 when UD hosts Coppin State in a non-league twinbill.

Following a three-game series at UNCW on Mar. 29-30, the Blue Hens are right back home to host UMES in an Apr. 2 doubleheader and Drexel in a weekend set on Apr. 5-6. Delaware then travels to Lafayette on Apr. 9, Towson on Apr. 12-13, and Rider on Apr. 16 during a quick six-game road swing.

After welcoming Hofstra to Newark for a three-game series on Apr. 19-20, the Blue Hens close out their home slate on Apr. 23 when they take on Saint Peter’s in a non-conference twinbill. Delaware then wraps up its regular season with a three-game set at James Madison on Apr. 26-27.

The four-team CAA Tournament will be held May 7-9 on the campus of the league’s regular season champion. The Blue Hens will be looking to qualify for the tournament for the fourth consecutive year, after competing in the championship during each of Wolhbach’s first three years at Delaware.