FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
MORAGA, Calif. – Saint Mary’s baseball head coach Jedd Soto has announced the baseball team’s 2012 schedule. The season includes 28 home games at the Gaels’ newly renovated baseball complex, with 12 home contests against West Coast Conference opponents Pepperdine, Gonzaga, newest conference member BYU, and 2011 WCC Champion San Francisco.
According to the Strength of Schedule matrix, Saint Mary’s has averaged the 40th most difficult non-conference schedule out of 300 NCAA Division I baseball teams since 2008, and the 2012 season is no different. Highlights of SMC’s non-conference schedule include participation in the Coca-Cola Classic hosted by Arizona State University and road trips to San Diego State and Hawaii. The Gaels will play seven games against four teams that reached the 2011 NCAA Tournament – Oregon State, Arizona State, Stanford and San Francisco. Three of those teams advanced to a Super Regional.
“We’ve tried to play a tough preseason schedule for the past five years and this year is no exception,” said Soto. “It is our goal to get our RPI into the top 75 before we battle it out against conference opponents.”
The Gaels will open the 2011 season at home against Southern Utah University February 17-19. The season-opener will be the first game ever played at the new complex. The team will host its 8th annual season kickoff fundraising dinner following the Friday game. The Gaels will then travel to Sacramento February 20 for the first of three midweek games with Sacramento State (the other two contests are March 27 in Moraga and May 8 in Sacramento).SMC will stay at home the weekend of February 23-25 when they host the BYU Cougars in a rare early season West Coast Conference matchup. This is BYU’s first season as a member of the conference.
“We had BYU scheduled to play us in 2012 and the Gaels returning to Provo in 2013 before they were added into the West Coast Conference. It just worked out that we were able to keep them on our schedule this year with minimal schedule modification. I look forward to having them in the conference this year,” said Soto. He added, “Playing BYU the second week of the season is exciting. We plan on being in mid-season shape when they get into town in February.”
Following a home mid-week game against San Jose State on February 28, Saint Mary’s will hit the road March 1-4 when they head to the Coca-Cola Classic hosted by Arizona State University. The Gaels open the tournament against Oregon State. The Beavers posted a 41-19 record in 2011, advancing to the Vanderbilt Super Regional at Vanderbilt. After games against Saint Louis and Northern Illinois, Saint Mary’s plays tournament host Arizona State to conclude the weekend. The Sun Devils finished 43-18 in 2011, making it to the Texas Super Regional.
The Gaels return home to host the Stanford Cardinal in the first of two midweek contests on March 6. The second game will be played at Stanford on April 2. The Cardinal had a 35-22 record in 2011 and advanced to the Super Regional at North Carolina. Saint Mary’s will then face another strong road test when they take on San Diego State at Tony Gwynn Stadium March 9-11.
Saint Mary’s returns home for their longest home stand of the year March 13-27, beginning with the first of two midweek contest against Nevada (the second game will take place in Reno, Nev., May 1). SMC will host Utah Valley State March 16-18 and Cal State Northridge in a four-game set March 23-25. Sandwiched between the two home series is a midweek contest against UC Davis March 19 (SMC return the favor by playing at Davis May 21).
“Our club has a good balance with home and away games. With the opening of our new facility in February, we are excited to kick off the 2012 season with plenty of home contests,” said Soto.
The West Coast Conference schedule resumes when the Gaels travel to Los Angeles to play Loyola Marymount March 30-April 1. Saint Mary’s returns home to play Pepperdine April 5-7.
SMC faces a tough stretch April 10-May 1 by playing 12 of 13 games on the road. The Gaels open the stretch with their second midweek contest against San Jose State. The following three weekends they will travel to the Hawaii April 13-15 for a four game set, and will play conference road contests at San Diego April 20-22 and Santa Clara April 27-29. In between the two conference series will be a home contest against UC Santa Barbara on April 23.
Saint Mary’s will face West Coast Conference members of the Northwest the next two weekends. They host 2011 conference runner-up Gonzaga May 4-6 and will hit the road to take on Portland May 11-13. The Gaels return home to conclude their regular season schedule May 25-27 against defending conference champion San Francisco.