FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Head coach Brian Shoop and the UAB baseball team announced its 2012 schedule on Tuesday, which features 56 games, including nine NCAA Regional opponents from a season ago.
UAB is slated to host 30 games at Young Memorial Stadium in 2012, while being the road squad in 23 contests and playing at neutral sites for three games. Of the 22 total opponents, the Blazers will take the diamond against 15 squads, which tallied 30 or more victories last season.
“I can’t imagine anybody in the country looking at this schedule and not going `whoa, that is a challenge’,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “This is an exciting and challenging schedule to play and is certainly a schedule that prepares us for the level play you see week in and week out in Conference USA.”
The season-opening series at Clemson, will take place Feb. 17-19 against a Tigers club that finished 43-20 and competed in the NCAA tournament in 2011.
Following a midweek contest at Alabama State (Feb. 21), who the Blazers will also play at home on March 7, UAB hosts 11 of its next 13 games, including three-game series with Ball State (Feb. 24-26), Utah (March 2-4) and Penn State (March 9-11).
During the home-friendly stretch, UAB will play a home-and-home series with Jacksonville State (Feb. 28-29), along with a contest at Troy (March 6).
Next the Blazers will travel to Kennesaw State (March 13) for a game prior to heading to the East coast to play in the C.C. Classic hosted by Coastal Carolina from March 16-18. The tournament field includes host Coastal Carolina, Michigan and Connecticut and will serve as the final tune up before the start of C-USA play. Both Coastal Carolina and UConn appeared in the postseason, with the Huskies advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals before falling to eventual national champion South Carolina.
“We try to schedule good trips for recruiting,” Shoop said. “Anybody that comes here knows they are going to take exciting trips, play at great places and compete against the best teams in the country. If you look at where we’ve played over the years — Arizona State, Hawaii, San Diego, Cal State Fullerton — it is an every year thing.”
The ever-daunting C-USA schedule consists of eight three-game series for a total of 24 contests. C-USA finished No. 5 in the country in RPI rankings a season ago, with four teams (East Carolina, Rice, Southern Miss, UCF) being selected to the NCAA tournament.
“I think every coach and player in our league feels that it is an honor to play in Conference USA,” Shoop said. “There are no off days, wins are precious and hard to come by and you better show up every day. It should be exciting for college baseball fans, because there is a lot of good opportunities to see a high level of college baseball if you follow the Blazers this year.”
The Blazers open the conference slate by hosting Marshall (March 23-25) before taking road trips to East Carolina (March 30-April 1) and UCF (April 6-8).
Sandwiched between the series with the Thundering Herd and Pirates, UAB will take on in-state foe Alabama at Regions Park, home of the Double-A Birmingham Barons, on March 27. UAB battles the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on April 10.
The rest of the league schedule features home series with Tulane (April 13-15), Houston (April 27-29) and Southern Miss (May 17-19). The Blazers will travel to Memphis (May 4-6) and 2011 league tournament champion Rice (May 11-13).
During the course of the C-USA schedule, the Blazers will take the diamond against non-conference foes Troy (April 3), Gardner Webb (April 20-22), Kennesaw State (April 24) and Jacksonville State (May 9) at home, along with a home-and-home series with Samford (April 17-18).
Coach Shoop and his squad look to build off last season’s success that saw the Blazers finish 29-28 overall, including series wins against ECU, Houston and Rice.
“Last year we concluded with 12 wins against top-50 (RPI) teams and nine wins against regional teams,” Shoop said. “We have a good, competitive program now. If we’re healthy and play to our capability we’re competitive in every single game we play in this year.
“While on one hand we realize the level of challenge we are facing, on the other hand, we are a good and competitive program now. It doesn’t mean we are going to walk through it, I don’t know of anybody that would walk through the schedule that we have put in front of our guys. It is exciting and here we go.”