FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
TOLEDO, OH – Toledo will compete in 56 games over the course of its 2011 season, Head Baseball Coach Cory Mee announced today. Unfortunately for the Rockets, 41 of the contests will take place away from Scott Park. The Rockets were an impressive 23-13 in road contests a season ago, though, including a perfect 12-0 in regular season Mid-American Conference away contests.
“I know our guys are looking forward to our 2011 schedule,” said Mee, the 2010 MAC Coach of the Year. “I feel like it’s an extremely challenging slate with many games against very good teams.”
UT will face a challenging non-league slate against some of the nation’s elite conferences. Contests against teams from the Big Ten, Big East, Conference USA, Atlantic 10, Horizon League, Southern and Metro Atlantic highlight the non-conference games.
“We like to play against the best competition possible, and I think our players are going to be ready for this spring’s challenge,” Mee said. “There is no doubt in my mind that we have to be playing our best baseball if we want to be successful. I think for us to be a championship-caliber team, we have to prove we can win on the road and we know there is going to be enough opportunities to do that this season.”
The Rockets begin the 2011 campaign with 23 road contests before commencing its home campaign on Wednesday, March 30 against Oakland.
“We certainly have our work cut out for us, but I think we are going to find out a lot about our team in those first 23 road games,” Mee said. “I definitely believe that five-weekend stretch is going to help us prepare for conference play.”
The Midnight Blue & Gold will get the ball rolling one week earlier than previous years on Friday-Sunday, Feb. 18-20 when it travels to the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, NC to battle Canisius (Feb. 18 & 20) and Creighton (Feb. 19). The Griffs won 39 contests a season ago.
The following weekend, UT will travel to Louisville, KY for a three-game series with the nationally ranked Cardinals on Friday-Sunday, Feb. 25-27. Louisville won a school-record 50 games in 2010.
After returning to the Glass City each of the first two weekends, UT will begin its annual Spring Break trip in Birmingham, AL with a three-game series vs. Samford on Friday-Sunday, March 4-6. From there, Toledo will travel to Winter Haven, FL to participate in the RussMatt Invitational on Tuesday-Friday, March 8-12 for the second time in the last three seasons. UT is scheduled to compete against Yale (March 8), Xavier (March 9), Lehigh (March 10), Bradley (March 11) and Massachusetts (March 12) in the five-game tourney.
Following their Spring Break trip, the Rockets will make their way back north for single games vs. Wright State (March 16) and Cincinnati (March 23), as well as make an appearance in the Panther Classic in Pittsburgh on Friday-Sunday, March 18-20. UT will square off against Youngstown State (March 18 & 20), Niagara (March 18) and the host Panthers (March 19) in the weekend classic. Pitt won 38 games a season ago.
UT’s remaining non-conference opponents include Dayton (April 5), Cleveland State (April 6 & April 26), NCAA Division II foe Lake Erie College (April 12), Michigan (April 13), Notre Dame (April 19), Oakland (May 10) and Ohio State (May 17).
The Rockets will play four MAC foes at home, including Akron (April 1-3), Buffalo (April 8-10), Western Michigan (April 29-May 1) and Eastern Michigan (May 13-15). As part of its 27-game league ledger, Toledo will face Kent State (March 25-27), arch-rival Bowling Green (April 15-17), Northern Illinois (April 22-24), Central Michigan (May 6-8) and Ball State (May 19-21) on the road.
Mee begins his eighth season at the helm of the Toledo baseball program, while Josh Bradford, Nick McIntyre and Jordan Becker will serve as assistant coaches. The Rockets are coming off a 34-22 overall record last spring, their eighth 30-win season in school history. UT’s win total was the second-most in school history, five behind the 1999 squad’s school-record 39-victory total. Toledo also finished an impressive 19-8 in the MAC, its best league mark since posting a 23-9 (.719) record in 1999. UT has finished in second place in the West Division each of the last two seasons.
“I would certainly hope that our players are confident heading into the spring, and I hope they use past experiences to their advantage,” Mee said. “I think our guys are ready for the spring and they are really looking forward to it.”