FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
VILLANOVA, Pa.–The finalized spring schedule for the Villanova baseball team was announced today and the Wildcats will begin the 145th season of varsity baseball on campus on February 18 when they kick off the 56-game regular season slate.
From the beginning of the season until late March the team will play its first 21 games against non-conference opponents, highlighted by a Spring Break trip to North Carolina from February 25-March 5. Villanova plays a total of 29 non-conference games in addition to the 27-game BIG EAST schedule, which this year begins at home from March 25-27.
In regular season conference play, the Wildcats will face nine league opponents in a three-game series. The revolving BIG EAST schedule affords Villanova five of those series at home this season, with four conference matchups on the road. League play begins against Seton Hall, while the Wildcats will also host USF (Apr. 1-3), Connecticut (Apr. 15-17), West Virginia (Apr. 29-May 1) and Rutgers (May 13-15). On the road versus BIG EAST foes, Villanova will visit Pittsburgh (Apr. 8-10), Cincinnati (Apr. 21-23), Georgetown (May 6-8) and St. John’s (May 19-21).
After missing their longtime region and conference rivals Seton Hall and St. John’s on the schedule last year, the Wildcats have both of those squads back on the schedule and will not play against either Louisville or Notre Dame during the regular season.
“We are very excited to reunite some of the program’s old rivalries when we play against Seton Hall and St. John’s this season, head coach Joe Godri said. “This will also be the first time since Louisville joined the league in 2006 that we do not have them on the schedule, as we have seen a lot of them in both the regular season and the conference tournament.”
The top eight teams in BIG EAST play at the end of the regular season advance to the conference championship in Clearwater, Fla. in late May. Villanova is looking to return to the postseason after a two-year absence. The team advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship in its last appearance in 2008.
“I expect that the BIG EAST as a whole is going to be as competitive as ever this year,” Godri said. “Last season was an incredible season for the league with three teams getting to NCAA regionals so we are going to have to play well each and every weekend in order to be successful.”
The highlight of non-conference play for the Wildcats will be during the Spring Break trip, when the team plays a three-game series at ACC member Duke (Feb. 25-27) followed by single games against North Carolina Central (Feb. 28) and North Carolina A&T (Mar. 1). Each of those five games will be played in stadiums that will give Villanova a taste of big-time college baseball.
Duke plays its home games at the new park of the Durham Bulls, a Triple-A minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Meanwhile, the former home of the Bulls is where North Carolina Central plays its home games, and the contest against North Carolina A&T will be held at the USA Baseball training complex. Villanova will conclude its trip to North Carolina with two games at UNC-Wilmington, the first against the Seahawks and the second against Holy Cross.
“The games against Duke continue our annual tradition of playing a series versus a high-profile opponent from one of the top conferences in the country,” Godri said. “It is also nice to see some new teams on the schedule in this five-game set and the whole team is excited about playing in some unique venues.”
Villanova opens its home schedule with a weekday game against Bucknell on March 8 and during the middle of the month will host the annual Villanova Classic and the Big Five Baseball Bash. The team has had a great deal of success in its two home tournaments in recent years.
“We always look forward to our home tournaments and these two events have become very important to the team as we continue to strive to be a dominant team at our home ballpark,” Godri said.
For the second straight season and the sixth time in the last eight years the Wildcats will play a three-game series at Norfolk State. This year the series will be played from Feb. 18-20 in Norfolk, where Villanova owns a 13-2 record since the 2004 season.