FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army head coach Joe Sottolano views the non-league portion of his team’s schedule each year as important training ground for the Patriot League wars that await his team later in the spring.
That’s one of the reasons Sottolano annually builds one of the toughest non-league slate of games in the conference and one of the driving forces behind his team’s dramatic improvement throughout the course of each season.
Based on this year’s schedule, which was released on Friday, the 2010 season should follow that same formula.
The Black Knights open play with a split-doubleheader against highly regarded Dayton and Atlantic Coast Conference member Wake Forest on Feb. 19 in Winston-Salem, N.C., then close out the weekend with a single contest against the Demon Deacons the next day. The three-game season-opening set ignites a month-long stretch that will see Army battle teams forecast to fight for league championships in the Southern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Mid-American Conference, Big 10 Conference, Ivy League and Northeast Conference, among others.
Army has posted at least 25 victories each of the past six years and captured three Patriot League championships during that stretch. The Black Knights return 16 letterwinners, six positional starters, 10 of their top 11 pitchers and all four weekend starting pitchers from last year’s club that finished 36-21 overall, captured a fourth regular season conference title in six years and reached the finals of the Austin Regional.
"We’re excited about our 2010 schedule," said Sottolano. "We open up with a very good trip down to Wake Forest, then go to UMBC and UNC Greensboro and play some very talented teams in Florida, like Ohio Sate. I think there’s a nice blend from different areas of the country. It gives us a wide variety of levels of competition and great exposure to different styles of play. I’m sure we’re going to see great arms throughout.
"Whether we’re home or away, our focus remains the same. Obviously it’s always nice to be at home and play in front of your fans, but we certainly love playing on the road in a lot of ways as well. We’re just going to have to focus on the day-to-day things. Whether we’re playing at West Point or another institution, it’s not going to change our philosophy or our approach on any given day."
In addition to Dayton and Wake Forest, Army will visit Maryland-Baltimore County for a three-game series to close out the month of February, then square off against UNC Greensboro before heading to Florida for a 10-day stay in the Sunshine State. Among teams included on the Black Knights’ spring-trip ledger are Akron, Yale, Eastern Illinois, Bradley and Ohio State.
Quinnipiac, Long Island, Cornell, Siena, Seton Hall, Iona, Hofstra and New York Tech rank among the list of non-league foes slated to face the Black Knights upon their return north this spring. Army will battle Marist in the fifth annual WPDH Hudson Valley Baseball Classic on April 28 at Dutchess Stadium.
Army will begin defense of its Patriot League championship at Holy Cross on April 3-4 when the Black Knights visit Worcester, Mass., for a four game weekend series. Army defeated the Crusaders in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals last spring after the teams had split their regular-season matchup.
After visiting arch-rival Navy the following weekend (April 10-11), the Black Knights conclude regular season Patriot League play with three consecutive series at Doubleday Field, hosting Lehigh (April 17-18), Lafayette (April 24-25) and Bucknell (May 1-2).