FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The Western Kentucky University baseball team and head coach Chris Finwood announced the scheduled for the 2011 season Friday. Highlighting the slate are a total of 19 games against teams that made the NCAA tournament last year, including three-game home series against Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida Atlantic, along with home-and-home series with Vanderbilt and Louisville.
In all, 10 teams on the 2011 schedule appeared in the NCAA tournament last season.
“We have a very exciting and challenging schedule in 2011,” Finwood said. “Adding the two early season tournaments to our always challenging non-conference schedule makes it even more exciting and I know our players are looking forward to it.
“We have 19 total games out of 56 against teams that played in the NCAA tournament last year and that is probably the most we have ever had. We have always taken the stance that to be an outstanding program, you have to play outstanding programs and we certainly have had success doing that in the past.”
The season opens at Nick Denes Field on February 18 with the start of a three-game set against Bowling Green State. The Falcons won 31 games in 2010 and are three-time defending Mid-America Conference East division champions. After the series with Bowling Green State, the Hilltoppers hit the road for a 10-game road trip beginning with a Tuesday, Feb. 22 matchup against Lipscomb.
The Hilltoppers then head to Myrtle Beach, S.C. to participate in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina Feb. 25-27. The event is contested at BB&T Coastal Field, which is home to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Class-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves), and will feature Kansas State, Coastal Carolina and Pacific.
The following week after a meeting with Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., WKU hits the road again for the College of Charleston Tournament March 4-6, where they will face New York Tech, Auburn and host College of Charleston. A two-game midweek series against Ole Miss, March 8-9, concludes the road trip for the Hilltoppers.
After returning from Oxford, Miss., WKU hosts New Orleans for a three-game series March 11-13 before traveling to Belmont for a March 15 contest in Nashville.
The Hilltoppers begin the Sun Belt Conference portion of their schedule March 18-20 in Bowling Green against Middle Tennessee. With the departure of UNO, the SBC opted to schedule a second series against each team’s natural rival, meaning WKU will make a return trip to Murfreesboro, Tenn., for the final series of the regular season, May 19-21.
“This home-and-home will add an extra dimension to everyone’s conference slate and could go a long way in determining the league champion,” Finwood said. “I think it’s great for our fans to have MTSU here every year.”
WKU also travels to FIU, Arkansas-Little Rock, Troy and Louisiana-Monroe. Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and South Alabama all travel to Bowling Green.
Finwood’s squad will have little rest during conference play, as the midweek schedule features home-and-home contests with Vanderbilt, Louisville, Kentucky, Austin Peay and Belmont, plus games against in-state rivals Murray State and Eastern Kentucky.
“When you add these games to the always tough Sun Belt schedule, it makes for an exciting and challenging spring,” Finwood said. “Our goal is always to have our guys battled tested before Sun Belt play begins and I think we will have accomplished that.”
The Sun Belt Conference Tournament is set for May 25-29 in Monroe, La., and the NCAA Tournament begins June 3.