Gonzaga releases 2009 Slate

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
SPOKANE, Wash. – The 2009 Gonzaga University baseball schedule announced Friday includes seven teams ranked in the 2009 pre-season polls, including five squads that participated in the NCAA tournament a year ago.

“We take pride in putting together a tough schedule each year. Our schedule will test us early and often and will prepare for us for WCC play later in the year,” said sixth-year head coach Mark Machtolf.

The Zags open the first three weeks of the season on the road beginning with four games at the Grand Canyon tournament in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 20-22. Gonzaga will match up against the University of Nevada and the University of Missouri, ranked 20th in at least one pre-season poll and a 2008 NCAA Tournament participant, twice each. After their first mid-week trip to face Washington State University, the Bulldogs head back to Phoenix for the HoHoKam Tournament the Feb. 27-March 1. Other competing teams will be 2008 NCAA Tournament participant Notre Dame University, Creighton University and the University of Dayton.

After the second and final trip to Pullman for a mid-week match up with the Cougars, the Zags travel to Palm Springs, Calif., March 5-8 for the Palm Springs Tournament hosted by Oregon State University. Gonzaga will face two tough teams out of the Big-12 Conference in Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University as well as UC Riverside out of the Big West Conference and West Coast Conference foe University of San Francisco.

“Each of the early-season tournaments are going to be a lot of fun, but the Palm Springs tournament will be special because teams from the Big-12, Pac-10, Big West and WCC will all be on display,” said Machtolf.

With 13 road games under their belt, the Bulldogs will finally get a chance to play in front of the home crowd with an 11-game home stand set for the middle of March. The first home dates of the season for the Zags will see them host another in-state rival out of the Pacific-10 Conference, the University of Washington, for a two-game mid-week series beginning March 10. Gonzaga then hosts Utah Valley University for four games followed by a three-game series with another Big West Conference member in the University of Pacific and then wrap up the home stand with a two-game weekday series against a tough Mountain West Conference opponent in the University of Utah.

The Bulldogs will take to the road for the next eight contests, opening WCC play at USF the last weekend of March, returning a two-game series at Washington and then traveling to Malibu, Calif. to face Pepperdine University the first weekend of April. The Waves are ranked 21st in one pre-season poll and were a 2008 NCAA participant as an at-large selection from the WCC.

The first WCC home series comes April 9-11 against the defending conference champion and pre-season Top 20 ranked University of San Diego. After the first of two mid-week visits from WSU, the Zags head to the University of Portland for a weekend series and then welcome 2008 NCAA Super Regional participant University of Arizona for single game April 20.The Bulldogs then head to Santa Clara University for a tough weekend series against a Bronco team that has received votes in national pre-season polls.

The Zags close out the regular season with seven of their final nine games at the Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field. A final meeting with WSU and a three-game home WCC series with Saint Mary’s College takes place the first weekend of May. A two-game midweek series at perennial Pac-10 and national power Oregon State University in May precedes the Zags final weekend of the regular season which will see them hosting Loyola Marymount University May 15-17.

Gonzaga is coming off of a 30-23 season in 2008, their second consecutive 30-win season for the first time since 1981-82. The 2009 Bulldogs return six players that hit .300 or higher, two senior starting pitchers and a freshman All-America closer from year ago.