FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – SFA head baseball coach Johnny Cardenas announced the upcoming 2010 schedule on Wednesday, a full 56-game schedule that includes SFA hosting its first-ever tournament on the season’s second weekend.
The `Jacks are slated to take on four teams that made an appearance in the national rankings a year ago and four that also made the NCAA Tournament. The 23-game non-conference schedule blends with 33 Southland games just one year after the conference sent multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
"Overall I think this schedule has turned out to be very good for us," Cardenas said. "This schedule will allow us to get an early sense of where we are at while challenging our team before we get into Southland Conference play."
The SFA Invitational is the highlight of the schedule and will bring regional rivals Northwestern State and ULM to Nacogdoches, as well as Creighton from the Missouri Valley Conference. The three-day event is scheduled for Feb. 26-28 at Jaycees Field.
"We are very excited to be hosting our first tournament here in Nacogdoches," Cardenas said. "Hopefully people will see it as something special and come out and enjoy the games. It is a solid field and should be a great weekend."
Home-and-home series with UTPA, Houston and Houston Baptist also dot the schedule and the `Jacks will also travel to Little Rock for two games on March 9 and April 27. This will be the first the teams have met since 2006 when the Trojans were the first opponent in baseball’s first season back at SFA.
That was also the last time SFA opened up the season at home, something that will change this year with a season-opening, three-game set against Grambling beginning Feb. 19. SFA heads to College Station for a Feb. 23 game with Texas A&M before hosting its own tournament just three days later.
The other big road trip of non-conference play will come just one week later when the `Jacks travel north to Norman, Okla., to participate in the Oklahoma Tournament on March 4-7. The four-day event will be a national battle for SFA as the `Jacks will get games with both the host Sooners and South Florida out of the Big East, a team that won 34 games last year and went four games deep into the Big East Tournament. SFA also gets a double-dip with Western Illinois in Norman for the first time on the diamond.
"The Oklahoma tournament is good that we get into a situation to get out and let our kids experience a full weekend of things and teams that we don’t normally get to see," Cardenas said.
One week later SFA jumps into league play at Central Arkansas, a team that came into Nacogdoches and swept the `Jacks in the season-opener one year ago. The March 12-14 series will be even more important to UCA than in years past as they are eligible for postseason play this season. The series will also mark SFA’s first trip to the renovated UCA Field.
Following the trip to Conway, SFA goes to the southern extreme of its schedule for a double-header at UTPA on March 16 before hosting Northwestern State beginning March 19.
Consecutive games with Houston follow that series with a trip to Nicholls also on tap before six straight games at home. Series with Prairie View A&M and defending league champion Texas State are included in that homestand that wraps up with SFA’s second double-header with UTPA on April 7.
A three-game set in San Antonio against UTSA follows the homestand, the only Southland location in which the `Jacks have yet to win since bringing back baseball in 2006. The `Jacks then get Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and McNeese State at home on consecutive weekends before embarking on the longest road swing of the season – eight games from April 27 to May 11.
Included on that trip are non-conference single games at UALR and Dallas Baptist to bookend the swing, with series at UT-Arlington and three-time defending SLC Tournament champion Sam Houston State at Don Sanders Ballpark on April 30-May1.
SFA then loads up for a final two-series push, starting May 14 at home with Southeastern Louisiana. The `Jacks close out the regular season for the second consecutive season against Lamar, this time at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont.
"The Southland Conference has made such strides in the quality of play and the quality of players in the last five years, as is evident by the number of players that have been drafted recently," Cardenas said. "I feel like this league is really positioning itself into becoming one of the strongest baseball leagues in the nation, which means that there is never a weekend off for 11 consecutive weeks."
The Southland Conference Tournament is currently set for May 26-30 at Whataburger Field in Corpus Chrsiti, Texas. This will be the second consecutive season that the home of the Corpus Chrsiti Hooks – the Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros – will serve as host of the conference tournament.