The Bears 2012 slate features 29 home games at Claude Smith Field and a total of 15 contests against six teams that participated in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
“Our 2012 schedule is going to be very challenging and is highlighted by games against ACC power Georgia Tech and SEC giant Mississippi State, giving us two opponents that are amongst the toughest in the country,” head coach Craig Gibson said. “These games combined with our other non-conference series will without doubt get our club prepared for another rigorous 2012 A-Sun campaign.”
The Orange and Black had another wildly successful campaign under Gibson last season, making their sixth consecutive appearance in the Atlantic Sun Championship and just missing out on an at-large berth for the NCAA Tournament after finishing the 2011 season ranked #56 in the National Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
“The last couple of years have certainly been exciting on campus with a combined 77 wins over the past two seasons,” said Gibson. “Many of the players that contributed to our success have graduated and gone on to professional baseball, so we need our sizable group of newcomers to grow up quickly in order for our program to continue progressing.”
The Bears begin their 2012 season with a four-game set against Ohio Valley member Morehead State on Feb. 17-19. This is not the first time Mercer has opened a season at home against the Eagles, as the two teams split a four-game series to begin the 2009 season.
The Orange and Black also faces Presbyterian (Feb. 24-26), High Point (March 2-4) and SEC power Mississippi State (March 9-May 11) in non-league series this spring. Mercer’s series with Presbyterian is the first meeting between the two clubs since 1963 while its match-up with High Point marks the first-ever meeting between the schools. The Orange and Black then travel to Starkville to take on a Mississippi State team that won 38 games and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals last season.
Mercer opens Atlantic Sun Conference play at Claude Smith Field with a three-game series against in-state rival Kennesaw State on March 16-18. The Bears also host Stetson (March 30-April1), Belmont (April 13-15), North Florida (May 11-13) and USC Upstate (May 17-18) for A-Sun weekend home series in 2012. Both Stetson and Belmont were participants in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, with the Hatters earning an at-large berth and the Bruins by way of the A-Sun automatic bid after downing Mercer in the A-Sun Championship game last season.
The Bears begin their A-Sun Conference road schedule against Lipscomb (March 23-25), with FGCU (April 5-7), ETSU (April 20-22) and Jacksonville (April 27-29) also on tap for road league series in 2012. Jacksonville was the third A-Sun squad to earn an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament despite losing twice and being eliminated from the A-Sun Championship by Mercer last May.
Mercer’s non-conference midweek dates consist of a number of contests against in-state opponents. They include match-ups against Georgia Southern (Feb. 28), Georgia State (March 14 and April 1), Georgia Tech (March 28 and April 10) and Savannah State (March 6 and April 3). Georgia Southern advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament by way of winning the Southern Conference automatic bid while Georgia Tech made its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and finished the 2011 campaign ranked 20th in the country.
The Bears also take on Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member FAMU (Feb. 21, Feb. 22, March 20 and March 21) and Southwestern Athletic Conference affiliate Alabama State (April 24, April 25, May 8 and May 9) in four mid-week contests.
The 2012 A-Sun Baseball Championships will be played on May 23-26 in DeLand, Fla. at Melching Field at Conrad Park, the home stadium of Stetson University.