FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The UAB baseball program has compiled a challenging schedule for the 2009 season, featuring 34 chances for fans to see the Blazers at home.
The 56-game schedule includes a 24-game Conference USA slate. UAB will play 12 league contests at Young Memorial Field in addition to 22 non-conference home games.
The Blazers play three of the first four weekends at home, including a season-opening series with Big South foe Radford (Feb. 20-22). The early-season schedule also features home series against Presbyterian (Feb. 27-March 1), another Big South team, and Ivy League member Harvard (March 13-15).
The only road weekend out of the first four is a trip to Waco, Texas, for the QTI Baylor Classic (March 6-8). The Blazers will play three games at the event, including matchups with Big West opponent UC Irvine and Big 12 foe Baylor, both of which enter the season ranked in the top 20 of the Collegiate Baseball poll. UAB’s third game at the tournament is against in-state foe South Alabama out of the Sun Belt Conference.
“We want to get off to a good start, but we also know there are no easy games in there,” UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. “Radford has made a commitment to their program. They have a ton of guys back, and they’re very well coached. Presbyterian will be in their second year of Division I baseball and will be better after playing that full Division I schedule last year. The tournament down at Baylor will have World Series caliber teams. It’s just a challenging schedule.”
The South Alabama game is one of 13 contests on the schedule against teams from the state of Alabama. The Blazers play defending Ohio Valley Conference regular season champion Jacksonville State four times in midweek contests in addition to two contests apiece with Alabama, Alabama A&M, Samford and Troy.
Alabama is one of two SEC schools on the schedule, joining Mississippi State. The Blazers have a home-and-home scheduled with both teams. The home game with Alabama (March 25) will be played at Regions Park, home of the Double-A Birmingham Barons.
UAB opens Conference USA play on the road for a three-game series at 2008 league tournament champion Houston (March 20-22) and is also scheduled for league road series at Marshall (April 10-12), Southern Miss (April 17-19) and Tulane (May 8-10).
The Blazers are scheduled for C-USA home series against East Carolina (April 3-5), UCF (April 24-26), Memphis (May 1-3) and defending regular-season champion Rice (May 14-16).
“Obviously, the league is great,” Shoop said. “Our ninth-place team is a good team, and that’s the thing. Every team in our league is pretty good, so you can look like you’re having a bad year when you’re really a pretty good team. Then in non-conference play, our weekday games are, in many cases, right there with our weekend games.”
In total, UAB will square off against seven teams that reached the 2008 NCAA tournament — UC Irvine, Houston, Alabama, East Carolina, Southern Miss, Tulane and Rice. Two of those teams, UC Irvine and Rice, advanced to Super Regionals.
The 2009 season builds toward the Conference USA Baseball Championship (May 20-24), hosted by Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss. The top eight teams make the league tournament, and the champion is rewarded with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.