FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
MOBILE, Ala. – Six NCAA Regional participants from last season, five games against Southeastern Conference schools and 27 games at Stanky Field highlight the 2012 University of South Alabama baseball schedule, as announced Tuesday by head coach Mark Calvi.
“I like our schedule,” Calvi said. “We have a very challenging non-conference slate of games. We open up with College of Charleston who is a [NCAA] regional team year-in and year-out. They have been an outstanding program in the Southern Conference. But I really like our non-conference schedule. I think that playing good teams early helps you in a weekend conference series. This year the Sun Belt Conference should be as tough as ever, and we’re looking forward to the challenge of the conference schedule.”
The Jaguars open the season with a seven-game home stand, beginning with a three-game season-opening series against College of Charleston (Feb. 17-19). USA will then host Jackson State (Feb. 21) in its first midweek contest of the season before hosting Samford (Feb. 24-26) in a three-game set at Stanky Field.
South Alabama will then hit the road for a five-game road swing with a midweek contest at Alabama (Feb. 28), followed by a three-game series at Stephen F. Austin (March 2-4) in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a midweek matchup at Southern Miss (March 6).
USA then hosts Nicholls State (March 7) before heading to Jacksonville, Fla., for a three-game weekend series with North Florida (March 9-11). The Jags return home the following Tuesday to host Auburn (March 13), before hosting Troy (March 16-18) to open Sun Belt Conference play.
Beginning with the Troy series, USA will play all Saturday contests at 6:30 p.m. as opposed to the traditional 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturdays.
“We sat down and looked at our attendance figures and other factors, and specifically focused on weekday nights and Saturdays,” USA Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann said. “We looked at the flow of our crowd for our traditional 6 p.m. first pitch; we had a very late-arriving crowd. So we decided to go with a 6:30 p.m. start for all of our weekday games to allow people to get home after work and get the kids together and bring them to the game. We understand you push later into the night that way, but we don’t think that is that significant of a detriment.
“Saturdays have traditionally been our lowest-attended games, and after examination of that we are going to go with a night game on Saturdays as we move toward warmer weather. We also did a survey of Sun Belt, Conference USA and SEC schools, and what we’re doing is not just unique to us. There are many institutions that go with night games on Friday and Saturday to help enhance attendance.”
The Jags will keep the 2 p.m. Saturday start time during February and early March, but will begin playing at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays starting with the March 17 contest against Troy. All midweek games at Stanky Field will begin at 6:30 p.m. this year.
“I think it is a great idea,” Calvi said of the time change. “It gives people more time to do what they’re going to do on their Saturdays and then make it out to the field to watch us play. I am in favor of anything that will improve attendance. Plus, this is such a big Little League town. We want to have those kids out here and involved, and grow up being Jaguar fans. So that gives them a chance to come out and watch us play. I think it will be a good thing from a community-relations standpoint as well.”
South Alabama will then kick off a six-game road swing which will begin with a midweek contest at Auburn (March 20). The Jags then travel to Monroe, La., for a three-game SBC series with Louisiana at Monroe (March 23-25) before heading to Wichita, Kan., for a two-game set with Wichita State (March 27-28).
USA returns home the following weekend to begin a SBC series with Middle Tennessee (March 30-April 1), which will be followed by a midweek matchup against Alabama (April 3) at Stanky Field.
The Jags then begin a seven-game road swing starting at Florida Atlantic (April 6-8), followed by a midweek contest at Mississippi State (April 10) and a three-game SBC series at UALR (April 13-15).
South Alabama will then have its next four games at Stanky Field, beginning with Southern Miss (April 17). The Jags then host Louisiana at Lafayette (April 20-22) in a three-game conference set at Stanky Field.
Following a midweek matchup at Nicholls State (April 24) in Thibodaux, La., USA hosts Florida International (April 27-29) in a three-game SBC series. USA will then host Southeastern Louisiana (May 1) for its final non-conference game at Stanky Field, before traveling to Jackson, Miss., to take on Jackson State (May 2) to close the non-conference schedule.
South Alabama then heads to Jonesboro, Ark., for a three-game SBC set with Arkansas State (May 4-6), before returning home the following weekend to host Western Kentucky (May 11-13) to close out its home schedule.
The Jags close the regular season with a three-game SBC series at Troy (May 17-19), prior to the start of the Sun Belt Conference Championship, which will be held May 23-26 in Bowling Green, Ky.
For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with www.usajaguars.com. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).