FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
LITTLE ROCK – The defending Sun Belt Tournament champion UALR Trojans have finalized their schedule for the upcoming 2012 baseball season, it was recently announced by head coach Scott Norwood. Coming off the program’s first-ever NCAA Regional appearance, UALR’s 56-game slate features matchups against five squads that qualified for the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and will host what will be the first-ever State Farm Arkansas Classic at Dickey-Stephens Park.
“I think it’s a challenging schedule that will help prepare us for our league,” said Norwood. “I wanted to get something that would challenge our guys not only at home, but on the road as well.”
The Trojans will play a total of 56 games with 11 coming against postseason teams from a year ago. In addition to SBC foes Troy and FIU, UALR will take on Belmont, Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts, all teams that advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Hosted by UALR, the State Farm Arkansas Classic will also include UAPB, UCA and Arkansas State, and will be played at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock on May 8. After Arkansas State and UAPB square off to begin the affair, the Trojans will take on UCA in what will be the second matchup of the season between the two teams that evening.
“I had the idea last year and all the other guys in the state were very excited to do it, and State Farm was definitely behind it,” said Norwood. “Arkansas baseball is getting better, and I think this is a great way to showcase some of the better talent in the state, by playing downtown at Dickey-Stephens Park.”
UALR will open its season with a four-game home series against UAPB (Feb. 17-19) before leaving Gary Hogan Field for seven straight road contests, beginning with the first of two matchups against Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La., on Feb. 22. The Trojans will then travel to Nashville, Tenn., to take on defending Atlantic Sun Conference champion Belmont in a three-game series (Feb. 24-26) before another three-game series at UT-Martin (March 2-4) caps the seven-game road swing.
Five straight contests at Gary Hogan Field begin March 6-7 with a pair of midweek matchups against South Dakota State. Wisconsin-Milwaukee closes out the five-game home slate when it comes to town that weekend (March 9-11) for a three-game series.
Another midweek series, this time at Southeast Missouri State (March 13-14), will serve as UALR’s final tune-up before the start of conference play at in-state rival Arkansas State (March 16-18). UALR returns home to cap its home-and-home series with Louisiana Tech on March 20 before hosting Troy (March 23-25), a team that won 43 games last season while qualifying as an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UALR hits the road for Stillwater, Okla., on March 27 for a midweek rematch of last year’s near upset of Oklahoma State. An April 3 matchup with reigning Summit League champ Oral Roberts is sandwiched between conference road series at Western Kentucky (March 30-April 1) and Middle Tennessee (April 6-8).
A road contest at Missouri (April 10) precedes a home series against South Alabama (April 13-15). The Trojans then travel to FIU (April 20-22) before heading to Conway for its first matchup with UCA (April 25).
Five straight homes games against Louisiana-Lafayette (April 27-29) and UALR’s third Big 12 opponent of the year, Kansas (May 1-2), precede a three-game series at ULM (May 4-6) and the State Farm Arkansas Classic (May 8).
The Trojans close out their regular-season slate with six-straight home games against Florida Atlantic (May 11-13) and Arkansas State (May 17-19) before the Sun Belt Tournament in Bowling Green, Ky., set for May 23-27.
UALR returns five starters and ten lettermen off its history-making team from a year ago. Norwood, entering his fourth year as head coach, will have 22 newcomers on this year’s club.