The `Jacks take on four teams that qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament, as well as one team that advanced deep into the College World Series. SFA will play host to 29 home games, which joins the 2008 slate for the most since bringing the sport back.
“We are excited about the schedule for the 2011 season,” Cardenas said. “We feel like it is a schedule that gives us not only a chance to develop our team with some winnable games, but also will really challenge us against some of the top non-conference competition in this region such as TCU, Texas A&M, Rice and Houston.”
After playing two single-game sets in Little Rock last year, Arkansas-Little Rock will return the favor on February 18 by opening up a four-game series to open up the year at Jaycees Field. It will be the first time the Trojans have visited Nacogdoches since 2006 when they provided the first opposition for SFA when the program was reinstated.
A road game at Houston on February 22 marks the first midweek contest of the season just before the Lumberjacks head to Natchitoches, La., for the four-team Northwestern State Tournament. It is the only tournament of the year for SFA and will be followed by a road trip to Arkansas-Pine Bluff and a weekend set against Centenary that will include the opener in Shreveport and the final two contests in Nacogdoches on March 5-6.
Houston Baptist will come to Nacogdoches on March 8 for the final pre-conference tune-up before Central Arkansas visits Nacogdoches on March 11 to open conference play against the Lumberjacks for the third consecutive season as part of a stretch of seven of eight games at home.
Following that stretch SFA will not have another week with more than one midweek game, but the level of competition in the midweek will be quickly elevated. Texas A&M will look for revenge against SFA on March 22 after SFA upset the Aggies last year at Olsen Field, and Cardenas will get his second career shot at his alma mater – TCU – on March 29 in Fort Worth when SFA battles the Horned Frogs just one year after TCU’s first-ever trip to the College World Series.
SFA will host Houston on April 26 in an afternoon contest and will travel to the Bayou City one last time to take on Rice on May 4 for the first time since 1995.
Meanwhile, the `Jacks will be in the midst of Southland Conference play with home series’ against Nicholls, UTSA and UT-Arlington leading into the final month of the season. SFA will host Sam Houston State and Lamar in two of the three final series of the year, sandwiched around a road series at Southeastern Louisiana beginning May 13.
“The Southland Conference has really established itself in recent seasons as being a very good baseball league,” Cardenas said. “All across the league the level of play has risen and there are no off weekends, so we know that will have to be at our best no matter who we play. It’s great being in a conference as strong as this one, because it helps out everyone in every aspect of their program.”
After two years in Corpus Christi, the Southland Conference Tournament site will transition from the Gulf Coast to the Texas Hill Country as two-time defending league champion Texas State will play host to the five-day event at Bobcat Field. The tournament is scheduled for May 25-29 in San Marcos with the winner earning the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.