FROM PRESS RELEASE
TAMPA, Fla. – On Tuesday, University of South Florida head coach Lelo Prado announced the release of the 2008 Bulls baseball schedule, a listing that includes six teams (17 games) that competed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament and recorded 40-plus wins last season.
USF’s 56-game schedule spans 21 teams from nine conferences, with 44 games played in the state of Florida and 35 at USF’s Red McEwen Field in Tampa.
“It’s going to be a challenging schedule, with a lot of new faces,” said Prado. “We want to play great teams here at USF. With this schedule, if we do our part, our power rating is going to be there, and if we play the way we are capable of playing, it can get us ready for the conference championship and regional tournament. We want to be one of those teams in the NCAA tournament.”
The Bulls begin the season with 18 of their first 19 contests at home, and the first 26 of 28 games played in the Sunshine State.
“We have got a great home schedule that should be fun for the community to come out and support us,” said Prado. “We want to play the best people in America and we want to bring them to our hometown.”
Opening day for the Bulls is slated for Feb. 22, which begins a three-game home series with Indiana State (Missouri Valley Conference) at Red McEwen Field. After the Friday-Sunday set with the Sycamores, USF hosts a four-day weekend with Oklahoma State and Northwestern Feb. 28-March 2. USF will play OSU Feb. 28 and March 1, split up by the Northwestern games Feb. 29 and March 2.
After earning an NCAA at-large berth, OSU won the Fayetteville Regional, defeating Arkansas twice on the Razorbacks’ home field to advance to the Super Regional. The Cowboys were downed by Louisville in two of three games at the Super Regional, halting the Big XII team’s run to the College World Series.
On March 4 USF will play Florida Gulf Coast, a school that is joining the Atlantic Sun Conference after making a trip to the 2007 NCAA Division II South Regional with a 40-17 record as an independent. The second meeting between the two teams will be in Ft. Myers, Fla., on March 25.
USF will play the 2007 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champion, Bethune-Cookman University, in Daytona Beach, Fla., for the Bulls’ first road game of the season. USF and the Wildcats, who posted a 16-1 conference record last season, will meet four times throughout the season, playing on the East coast March 5 and April 2 and in Tampa April 16 and April 30.
To end the third week of the season, the Bulls play Savannah State, an independent school that registered a 31-23 record last season, in a three-game series in Tampa.
Midweek games with FAU and UNF will be the first of the home-and-away matchups with the in-state opponents. The Bulls play FAU March 11, then again April 22 and host UNF March 12, then travel to Jacksonville March 26.
USF ends their stretch of 14 games in 18 days (Feb. 28-March 16) by opening BIG EAST action with Seton Hall March 14-16 in Tampa. The Bulls beat Seton Hall, who was 25-25 in 2007, in two of three games last season in South Orange, N.J.
Splitting the first two conference weekends will be a two-game set with Oklahoma, March 18-19. The Sooners were 34-24 last season, finishing seventh in the Big XII conference.
USF leaves the state of Florida for the first time in mid-March, traveling to Ohio for a three-game, two-day BIG EAST matchup with Cincinnati. The Bulls and Bearcats, who did not meet during the 2007 season, will play an evening game March 21, then bear down for a double-header Saturday afternoon.
Another first-time meeting between Prado and a BIG EAST school will occur March 28-30 when Georgetown comes to Red McEwen Field. The Bulls’ last meeting with the Hoyas was in 2006, when USF beat the team from Washington, D.C., one out of three games.
On April 1 the Bulls begin a four-game week on the road, beginning at UCF in Orlando, then to Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach on April 2 and off to Morgantown, W.V., April 4-6 for BIG EAST play. USF and UCF will play four times this season, in the Bay Area April 8 and May 6, and in Orlando April 1 and 29.
The second half of USF’s season includes four teams that participated in 2007 NCAA regionals, and one that played in the College World Series.
Prado will face the Louisville Cardinals, the team he coached to a 320-301-1 record in 11 years, in Tampa April 11-13. Last season Louisville beat Oklahoma State, 20-2, in game three of the Super Regional to advance to the 2007 College World series for the first time in school history.
USF and Stetson, who played in the 2007 Tallahassee Regional, will meet twice this season, the first time being in DeLand April 15 and the second a week later at Red McEwen Field April 23. The Bulls topped the Hatters twice last season, by scores of 6-5 and 5-0.
In mid-April the Bulls head to New Jersey to face Rutgers in Piscataway April 18-20 at Bainton Field. Rutgers, the BIG EAST Championship winner, as well as the regular-season BIG EAST co-champion, was eliminated by Oregon State, 5-2, in the Charlottesville Regional to end their quest to Omaha.
USF hosts Villanova April 25-27 before heading back to the Northeast for a three-game series with St. John’s May 9-11. The Bulls lost two regular-season matchups with the Red Storm, but beat the team from Queens, N.Y., 2-0, in the second round of the BIG EAST Championship to knock the conference co-champion out of the tournament. St. John’s did earn an at-large berth to the NCAA regional, but ended its season with a 6-5 loss to Coastal Carolina.
In the final Tuesday-night game of the year, the Bulls look to avenge last season’s ninth-inning 10-5 loss to in-state rival Florida. In 2007 USF gave up seven runs in the ninth inning to drop the game to the SEC opponent.
USF wraps up the season May 15-17 in Tampa against Notre Dame. The Bulls took two from the Fighting Irish in Indiana in 2007. After losing the first game 1-0, USF outscored ND 22-11 in the final two games to win the series.
The 2007 BIG EAST Championship will be held May 21-25 at a location yet to be announced. NCAA championships begin with Regionals (May 30-June 2) and Super Regionals (June 6-8) at campus sites, which lead to the College World Series held at Omaha’s Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium June 14-25 in Nebraska.
Full Schedule available here.