Kent State’s slate consists of four games against two 2011 NCAA Tournament participants, 27 Mid-American Conference contests, 21 home dates at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium and the Sixth Annual Diamond Classic For Kids against rival Akron at Canal Park.
Kent State finished the 2011 season ranked No. 26 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, winning the MAC regular season and tournament championships and earning a berth in the 2011 NCAA Championship Austin Regional. After earning the program’s first-ever national tournament regional No. 3 seed, Kent State tallied an 11-inning 4-2 win over Texas State and followed it with a 7-5 winner’s bracket triumph over regional host and No. 5-ranked Texas to earn the school’s second-ever berth in a regional final. The Flashes became the first squad to win three straight MAC Tournament crowns and first since 2005 to win the conference’s regular season and tournament titles in the same season. Kent State’s mark of 45-17 matched the 1992 squad for most victories in program history.
The 2012 season gets underway Feb. 17-19 with the round-robin Rock Hill Coca-Cola Classic. Just like last year, Kent State’s first opponent will be Georgia Tech, as the Flashes battle the Yellow Jackets in their first two games of the tournament. Kent State opened ’11 at Georgia Tech, upending the then-No. 19 Yellow Jackets in a 6-1 victory on Feb. 20 in the third and final game of a three-game set in Atlanta. Georgia Tech has been a mainstay in the national postseason for nearly three decades, reaching the NCAA Tournament 25 times in the last 27 years. Kent State closes the Classic with two games against host Winthrop. The Flashes beat the Eagles twice on their home field last year to win the Johnny Gill Memorial Tournament.
Kent State’s season-opening tour of the South continues with a pair of three-game weekend series at Lipscomb (Feb. 24-26) and Western Kentucky (March 2-4). The Flashes will then fly West for a trip to New Mexico State (March 9-11) before heading off to the West Coast to meet Pepperdine (March 16-18) and Fresno State (March 20-21). The Bulldogs have appeared in the NCAA Tournament five of the last six seasons, highlighted by a national title in 2008.
The Flashes open MAC play at home March 23-25 against West Division foe Northern Illinois as their quest for a second straight MAC regular season crown and 12th in school history begins. Other conference home series include Buffalo (April 6-8), Western Michigan (April 27-29), Miami (May 11-13) and Akron (May 17-19). The series against the Zips kicks off with the Diamond Classic at Canal Park, contest which benefits Akron Children’s Hospital. MAC road series include Ball State (March 30-April 1), Bowling Green (April 13-15), Central Michigan (April 20-22) and Ohio (May 4-6).
Midweek non-conference opponents include Pittsburgh, Penn State, Toledo, Youngstown State, Niagara, Lake Erie College and Eastern Michigan.
The season culminates in the MAC Tournament (May 23-26), which will now call All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio, its home after four seasons at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio. The winner of the conference tournament receives the MAC’s automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Kent State is taking aim at an unprecedented fourth straight MAC Tournament title and NCAA berth.
The 2012 NCAA Tournament will kick off June 1-4 with regional action, to be followed by Super Regionals (June 8-11) and the College World Series (June 16-27) at TD AmeriTrade Park in Omaha, Neb.