FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee baseball program announced the full schedule for the 2012 campaign, its first under head coach Dave Serrano, on Wednesday. Highlighting the slate are 26 games against a total of 10 teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year, including home sets against Seton Hall, Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
“We came out pretty good,” Serrano said. “I feel we will be challenged and have a good balance of home and away games. I’m excited. We want to find out about our team, so we want to challenge our team each and every weekend and in mid-week games so that we can learn some things about them and be able to prepare them to be successful in the SEC.”
The Volunteers will play a total of 34 games in the friendly confines of the recently renovated Lindsey Nelson Stadium, including the first eight contests of the season, before making the trek to the Lone Star State for their second appearance in the 2012 Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
While the schedule for the tournament has yet to be finalized, the field will include hometown teams Rice and Houston, along with Texas, Texas Tech and Arkansas.
“I’m excited to go to (the Houston College Classic) and play in that ballpark,” Serrano said. “I’ve heard it is run first-class and I will be excited to take our players and our team into that atmosphere and be challenged by some of the better teams in the country.”
Fans of the Orange and White will get their first chance to see their favorite team in action against Northern Illinois (30-27) in the opening weekend of play, Feb. 17-19. The Vols will then welcome former UT player and first-year head coach at Western Kentucky (33-24) Matt Myers back to Rocky Top for a 3 p.m. contest on Tues., Feb. 21.
The Big Orange will close out its season-opening homestand with a three-game set against Big East foe Seton Hall (34-25), Feb. 24-26, and a mid-week tilt against Middle Tennessee State (18-37) at 3 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 28. The Vols will later return to MTSU on May 15.
Following its trip to MinuteMaid Park, home of the Houston Astros, Tennessee will return to Rocky Top for a mid-week matchups with Ball State (15-35) on Wed., March 7 and Tennessee Tech (25-29) on Tues., March 13, sandwiched around a weekend series versus Louisiana Monroe (24-30), March 9-11.
UT will then open Southeastern Conference play on the road at Georgia, March 16-18. The Orange and White will later host weekend series against Kentucky, Alabama, College World Series participants Florida and Vanderbilt, and Arkansas.
Tennessee’s conference road schedule will include trips to two-time defending national champion South Carolina, Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss. The Vols will not play LSU during the 2012 regular season.
Rounding out the schedule are a number of talented non-conference foes. UT will host Florida International (40-20) on March 21 and Austin Peay (34-24) on April 24, in addition to playing two games against Mississippi Valley State (18-36) March 27-28. The Vols are also slated to take part in home-and-home series with both Memphis (30-27; April 4/May 9) and East Tennessee State (36-21; April 11/April 18).
The 2011 SEC Tournament, which features the league’s top eight finishers in the regular season, is set for May 23-27 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. NCAA Regional action takes place June 1-4, followed by NCAA Super Regional play, June 8-11.
The NCAA College World Series will return to Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, Neb., for the second time, June 15-26. Tennessee has made four previous appearances at the College World Series (1951, 1995, 2001 and 2005).