Tennessee head baseball coach Todd Raleigh released the team’s 2008 schedule. In addition to the traditional gauntlet of Southeastern Conference opponents, the Volunteers also will square off against four non-conference teams who advanced to NCAA Regional play last season.
Of the 56 scheduled regular-season games, 16 will be against 2007 NCAA Tournament teams. A total of 13 teams on UT’s 2008 schedule turned in a top-64 finish in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) last year.
“This is a good schedule with some really strong opponents, though it’s still not what I’d ultimately like for it to be,” Raleigh said. “We’ve given up some home games this year for the sake of securing multiple home dates with those opponents in the future. When our stadium renovations are complete, I’d like to play close to 40 home games while increasing our strength of schedule across the board.
“Most of this year’s schedule was set before our staff arrived, so our hands were tied in many instances for this first year. With that said, it will still be a challenging season. We’re working extremely hard this fall to prepare.”
Friday, Feb. 22—the new NCAA-mandated uniform start date that will create a true national “Opening Day” for college baseball —will provide Big Orange fans with their first glimpse of the Vols, as UT begins a three-game homestand against Morehead State at Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. It is the first of 33 regular-season home games.
The Vols’ pre-conference schedule is highlighted by a return trip to Houston for the Minute Maid College Classic. Tennessee is slated to face Big 12 Conference stalwarts Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma at the event, which takes place at Minute Maid Park, home stadium of the Houston Astros. The Vols also took part in the 2005 Minute Maid College Classic, posting a 1-2 record.
Due to the NCAA’s new start date, there are only three weekends of play before UT enters the conference portion of its schedule. Tennessee’s home SEC series feature matchups against LSU (March 14-16), Florida (April 4-6), Alabama (April 11-13), Vanderbilt (May 2-4) and Kentucky (May 9-11).
The Vols will venture out on the road to battle conference foes Georgia (March 21-23), Auburn (March 28-30), Arkansas (April 18-20) and Mississippi State (April 25-27) before closing out the regular season at South Carolina (May 15-17).
Ole Miss is the only team UT will not face during the 30-game regular-season SEC schedule.
Tennessee has home-and-home series set with ETSU, Furman and Middle Tennessee, non-return road games at Lipscomb, and Tennessee Tech and exclusive home dates with Morehead State, James Madison, Eastern Michigan, Presbyterian College, USC Upstate, Charlotte, Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Belmont.
The Vols’ longest homestand is a nine-game stretch from March 5-16. Tennessee will play four straight road games on five different occasions. And six weeks of the 12-week regular-season schedule will feature multiple midweek games.
The 2008 SEC Tournament is set for May 21-25 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. NCAA Regional play takes place May 30-June 2, with NCAA Super Regionals slated for June 6-9. The NCAA College World Series runs June 14-25 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Fox Sports Net South/SEC-TV has announced that it will televise two Tennessee home games. The Vols’ April 5 contest against Florida and May 3 game against Vanderbilt both will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Net South.
SportSouth also will televise a number of UT home games, which will be announced at a later date.