FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State will play five consecutive games against 2009 NCAA Tournament teams to begin its spring trip and will match-up with 11 teams that won at least 30 games last season in a highly competitive 2010 baseball schedule released Tuesday.
The Redbirds will begin spring break with games against 2009 NCAA Tournament qualifiers Indiana (March 5), Vanderbilt (March 6), and Kent State (March 7) at the Music City Classic hosted by the Commodores in Nashville, Tenn., before taking on Florida (March 9-10), last year’s No. 8 overall seed, in a two-game midweek series in Gainesville, Fla. Illinois State’s schedule features 53 games, including 19 contests at home against regional foes Illinois, Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Purdue, and Valley rivals Southern Illinois, Wichita State and Bradley.
"This is a very challenging schedule as we look forward to 2010," Illinois State head coach Mark Kingston said. "Our non conference opponents will prepare us for the demands of a very competitive Missouri Valley Conference. At one point, we will play five-consecutive games against 2009 NCAA tournament teams. Being able to play at Florida and Vanderbilt will also be an experience that pays dividends. This high level of competition will be good for us in the long term, both individually, and as a team."
Illinois State will play its first 18 games on the road and begin the 2010 season at the Austin Peay Classic (Feb. 19-21) in Clarksville, Tenn., against Austin Peay and Iowa. The trip is the first of three the Redbirds will make to the state of Tennessee. Illinois State will then travel to Winter Haven, Fla., for the 2010 RussMatt Central Florida Invitational (Feb. 27-March1), where the Redbirds will play four games against four different opponents.
The Redbirds will then tackle the grueling five-game stretch against tournament teams to start its spring break trip, but the competition doesn’t let up with two games against James Madison (March 12 and 14) wrapped around a date with North Florida (March 13) in Jacksonville, Fla., before Illinois State returns home.
Illinois State opens the home portion of its schedule at Duffy Bass Field with a four-game series against Central Michigan (March 19-21). The Redbirds won’t have time to get too comfy, as the team plays nine of its next 11 games on the road, including the conference-opening series at Indiana State (March 26-28), another trip to Tennesse for a three-game series with Lipscomb (April 2-3), and a match-up with Valley foe Creighton in Omaha (April 9-11).
ISU will host mid-week match-ups with Illinois (March 30), Northern Illinois (April 6), Purdue (April 14) and Eastern Illinois (May 12). The Redbirds open the home-conference slate against Southern Illinois (April 16-18). Illinois State will also welcome Wichita State (April 30-May 2) and Bradley (May 14-16) to Duffy Bass Field in Missouri Valley Conference action. Keeping history alive, Illinois State will travel across town for the annual Horenberger-Bass Classic against Illinois Wesleyan (April 27). The Redbirds will close the season on the road at Evansville (May 20-22).
Postseason play begins Tuesday, May 25, with the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, hosted by Wichita State at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kan. The NCAA Tournament begins on Friday, June 4.