HARRISONBURG, Va., Aug. 20, 2008 – James Madison University baseball head coach Spanky McFarland has announced the 2009 schedule for the Diamond Dukes, which will be the final season for the defending CAA champions at Long Field/Mauck Stadium.
“I think it’s a pretty good schedule,” reflected McFarland upon the release. “Starting at the top, the Coastal Carolina Tournament is typically a good tournament. We don’t know the opponents, but we expect to play other top 75 programs there and Coastal is always good. We’ve got Maryland back on the schedule, which is exciting because we’ll have four ACC games. Our Stetson trip will be a challenging trip. They are typically in the top 75 every year and seem to be in the NCAA tournament on a fairly regular basis. After that, the only new team is Mount St. Mary’s. It’s a fairly easy trip and they were in the NCAA tournament last year.”
JMU, which went 39-19 in 2008 and won the Colonial Athletic Association championship, will open the 2009 slate Feb. 20-22 at the Coastal Carolina Tournament in Conway, S.C. near Myrtle Beach. The Dukes will return for their home opener Feb. 24 against Liberty. Other non-conference weekend series include home against Lafayette (Feb. 27-Mar. 1), at Stetson (DeLand, Fla.) (Mar. 6-8), and a neutral set against Bryant (N.H.) to be played just north of Harrisonburg in New Market. Rebels Park, home of the New Market Rebels of the summer Valley Baseball League, is widely regarded as one of the best and most scenic venues for summer baseball.
“That series is something that we haven’t done before but we’re excited about it,” commented McFarland. “It’s a nice facility and the people up there love baseball. They are excited and anxious for us to come and play. If this works out, it could open the door for similar arrangements in the future.”
The remainder of the non-conference schedule is filled with familiar opponents with home-and-away sets against George Washington, Maryland, Liberty, Longwood, Radford, VMI, and Virginia Tech. JMU will play an additional home game with Liberty after playing two of three in Lynchburg in 2008. The Dukes also have a single home contest with East Tennessee State, two home games against Youngstown State, and a game at Mount St. Mary’s.
The conference schedule will have a different look in 2009 with the league shifting from a 10-series schedule to an eight-series format for a total of 24 CAA contests. JMU will open the league slate March 20 against Northeastern and will also host Old Dominion, Georgia State, and George Mason at home. Road trips will include Towson, VCU, Delaware, and William & Mary. The Dukes will not face UNC Wilmington or Hofstra, which finished first and last respectively in the CAA in 2008.
The 2009 season will be the last for the Dukes at Long Field/Mauck Stadium, the program’s home since 1974. Construction of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium at the site of Memorial Hall (formerly Harrisonburg High School) is expected to begin early in the fall of 2008 and to be completed in time for the 2010 season.
The final home game at Long Field/Mauck Stadium is set for Saturday, May 16 against George Mason. JMU and GMU finished second and third respectively in the CAA in 2008 and featured a combined total of three seniors, setting up a potentially key series for the Dukes in the stadium’s finale.