FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
MONROE, La.— Featuring 28 home games, including visits from Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi and Louisiana-Lafayette, defending Sun Belt Conference Champion ULM released its schedule for the 2009 baseball season on Tuesday.
“We are excited about this year’s schedule,” head coach Jeff Schexnaider said. “We have quality games throughout the season that will be very challenging and will help our RPI. I also think we have some really good home games for our fans this year.”
The Warhawks won the Sun Belt title last season in just their second year in the league and Schexnaider was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year. ULM finished the 2008 campaign 34-24 overall and set school records for hits, home runs, RBIs, doubles, total bases and double plays turned. Returning senior shortstop Ben Soignier was named to a pair of All-America teams and led the NCAA in runs per game.
ULM opens the 2009 campaign hosting the inaugural Warhawk Classic on Feb. 20-22 at Warhawk Field. The Warhawks open the round robin tournament and the season against Stephen F. Austin on Friday before squaring off against Northwestern State and Mississippi Valley State on days two and three of the event.
Next is the first of 13 games against NCAA Tournament teams from last season as the Warhawks and Tulane renew an in-state rivalry on Feb. 25 in New Orleans. It will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1994.
Following the single mid-week game against the Green Wave, ULM and Grambling State will meet for a three game series on the final weekend on February. The first two games of the series will take place at Warhawk Field before moving to Grambling for the Sunday finale.
Southern Mississippi pays a visit to Monroe on March 4 before the Warhawks trek to Bowling Green, Ky., for the Sun Belt opener against defending Sun Belt Tournament Champion Western Kentucky on Mar. 6-8.
A pair of Southland Conference foes and a visit by Sun Belt rival New Orleans mark the first five-game week of the season. The busy week begins with the Warhawks hosting Texas Arlington on March 10 and traveling to McNeese State on March 11 before hosting the Privateers that weekend in a three-game set.
The chore does not get easier as the Warhawks travel to Dallas for a pair of games against NCAA Tournament participant Dallas Baptist on March 17-18.
ULM then welcomes Arkansas State (March 20-22) and Harvard (March 23) to Monroe before traveling to Hattiesburg, Miss., to take on Southern Mississippi (March 24) for a rare five-day stretch of games.
The trip to Southern Mississippi begins a stretch of eight-of-nine and 13-of-17 on the road. After the return game with the Golden Eagles, the Warhawks head to Boca Raton, Fla., for a Sun Belt series against Florida Atlantic on March 27-29.
A visit by perennial national power Mississippi State to Warhawk Field on April 1 breaks up the long trip. The Bulldogs will be the first SEC team to play in Monroe since LSU made the trip in 2004.
“Mississippi State has always been a school that will travel and play a mid-week game on the road,” Schexnaider said. “It is great to see a team for one of the top conferences come to ULM and hopefully we can get a Regional type atmosphere for that game.”
Following the mid-week contest against Mississippi State, the Warhawks travel up to Little Rock, Ark., for a Sun Belt series against UALR on April 3-5. A Tuesday game against Northwestern State (April 7) wraps up the run.
Sun Belt rival Louisiana-Lafayette comes to Warhawk Field on April 10-12 for a three-game series. The last time the Warhawks and Ragin Cajuns met in Monroe, ULM broke the three-game attendance record as 5,738 packed Warhawk Field for the series.
Following the series against ULL, the Warhawks pack up for a pair of games at Arkansas (April 14-15) in Fayetteville, Ark., and a three-game conference series at Middle Tennessee (April 17-19).
Another five-game week awaits ULM when they return beginning with McNeese State and Northwestern State at home on April 21-22. The week concludes with a visit from Florida International for a three-game Sun Belt series on April 24-26.
The third-straight five-game week sends the Warhawks to Beaumont, Texas, for a pair of games against Lamar on April 28-29 before returning home to host South Alabama on May 1-3 in the final home Sun Belt series of the season.
The Warhawks wrap up Sun Belt play the following weekend at Troy on May 8-10 before closing the regular season against Houston Baptist at Warhawk Field on May 17-18.
The league’s top eight teams will compete for the Sun Belt Tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on May 20-23 at Troy.