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North Carolina Central releases 2012 Schedule

DURHAM, N.C. – ( – North Carolina Central University head baseball coach Jim Koerner has announced the 2012 baseball schedule, where the Eagles will play 29 home games at historic Durham Athletic Park including a bevy of conference games in his first season at the helm.

With the additions of NCCU and Savannah State into the conference, the MEAC has adopted a divisional format where the five-team Southern Division (Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, North Carolina A&T, NCCU, and Savannah State) will all face one another in home-and-home series. The Northern Division will house Coppin State, Delaware State, Norfolk State, and Maryland Eastern Shore.

“Our schedule is filled with big games against some very good competition, but none bigger than the 24 conference games we will be playing on the weekends,” said Koerner. “To be able to play for a MEAC Championship is a goal that our players are embracing and eager to start.”

NCCU’s ‘Coach K’ era will begin with the Eagles playing its first eight contests at home. The Eagles will take on five teams from the Tar Heel state (Campbell, Davidson, Duke, North Carolina A&T, and UNC Asheville), while playing three teams for the first time in the modern era of the program (New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Eastern Michigan, and Holy Cross).

The season’s first pitch will be thrown on Friday, Feb. 17 as the Eagles host the UNC Asheville Bulldogs for the first game of a three-game set. NCCU and UNCA have only met one previous time with the Bulldogs winning 5-4 on March 24, 2010 in Asheville. Game one of the series is set for a 3:00 p.m. first pitch, while the Saturday, Sunday affairs are set for 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 22 will see NCCU host cross-town foe Duke University, as the Blue Devils make the 2.5-mile trek to the Durham Athletic Park for meeting No. 10 since 2007. The Blue Devils hold a 9-0 lead on the Eagles. That contest is slated for a 6:00 p.m. start.

“The opportunity to play a school with such great tradition like Duke is something our guys look forward to,” said Koerner. “It is even better when that team is in the same town. The game will be a good measuring stick for us and hopefully show us what we need to do to compete at that level.”

As the month of February winds down, the Eagles will take on the Highlanders of NJIT on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25 and 26 with doubleheader action slated for a 1:00 first pitch on Saturday. NCCU and NJIT have both gone through the arduous transition to Division I, and are meeting for the first time.

The final contest of the month of February will take place on Leap Day, Feb. 29 at 6:00 p.m. against the Eagles of Eastern Michigan University. Eastern Michigan hails from the Mid-American Conference, as NCCU has only taken on one other MAC school as the maroon and gray took on University at Buffalo last season.

The month of March begins with a bang for the Eagles as they will head out to Buies Creek, N.C. to take on the Crusaders of Holy Cross in NCCU’s only neutral site contest during the regular season on Friday, March 2 at 11:00 a.m., followed by the first of four matchups during the 2012 campaign with Campbell University at 3:00 p.m. On Saturday, March 3 the Camels and Eagles will meet again to finish out the weekend at Taylor Field with a 2:00 matchup.

NCCU will return for a two-game set with Presbyterian on March 6 and 7 as both contests are set for 6:00 p.m. at the Durham Athletic Park. The return contest in Clinton, S.C., will take place on Wednesday, April 18 at 6:00 p.m. at the PC Baseball Complex.

“Now that we have the opportunity to compete for a conference championship, our individual and team expectations need to rise to the challenge,” said Koerner. “The MEAC is extremely competitive. There will be no easy weekends, but the expectation is to win every time we take the field. In order to do that it will be imperative for us to be mentally ready to compete every day. Our goal is to win a championship, but our first objective will be to qualify for the tournament.”

Koerner and his troops will get their first conference opportunity beginning on Saturday, March 10 at 1:00 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium in Greensboro as the Eagles and Aggies will tangle in NCCU’s first conference series since 2007 when the maroon and gray competed in the CIAA, winning the regular season title. The twinbill is set for a 1:00 p.m. start. The series finale will take place on Sunday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m.

“Even though we are first-year participants in the MEAC, it is nice to know that we already have a built in rivalry,” said Koerner. “From my understanding, games against NC A&T always take on a little more significance within the NCCU community. Fans can become more involved by traveling to these games because of the closeness in proximity.”

After the first conference series of the year, the Eagles will head down to Wilson Field in Davidson, N.C., to take on Davidson College in a mid-week contest at 6:00 p.m. The Wildcats own a 7-0 lead in the series over NCCU.

The following weekend, the Eagles make the first of two trips to Florida to take on MEAC perennial power Bethune-Cookman University, which boasts six straight MEAC championships, 15 in program history. The Eagles and Wildcats have yet to face each other in the modern era. Doubleheader action of the MEAC series begins at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 at Jackie Robinson Park in Daytona Beach, Fla. The series finale will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 18.

After that series, NCCU returns home for five straight beginning with a March 20 contest against Davidson at 6:00 p.m., and a non-conference affair with Maryland Eastern Shore on Wednesday, March 21 at 6:00 p.m. The final three games in the home stand are against conference foe Savannah State. Since 2008, NCCU is 4-20 against SSU and the first of the three-game conference set begins on Saturday, March 24 at 1:00 p.m. from the Durham Athletic Park. Sunday’s contest is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.

The Eagles end the month of April on the road with a twinbill at Longwood on Tuesday, March 27 and head back down to the Sunshine State for a MEAC series against Florida A&M on March 31 (1:00/4:00 p.m.) and April 1 at 1:00 p.m. down in Tallahassee, Fla. The maroon and gray set a new mark in the final game of the series against the Rattlers, winning 22-5 on March 9, 2011, scoring the most runs by any Eagle squad in the modern era of NCCU baseball.

The Diamond Eagles then return home for seven straight home games beginning with former CIAA-rival Virginia State on April 4 at 6:00 p.m., a three-game set with the Lancers of Longwood with a doubleheader on April 7 and single-game on April 8. Both days are slated for 1:00 p.m. starts.

On Wednesday, April 11, NCCU will face Campbell at 6:00 p.m., before heading into a home series with arch-rival North Carolina A&T on April 14 and 15. The doubleheader at the Durham Athletic Park is set for 1:00 as is the series finale on Sunday.

After a mid-week single game at Presbyterian on April 18, NCCU hosts Bethune-Cookman in its final Southern Division matchup of the season that takes place on Saturday, April 21 with doubleheader action beginning at 1:00 p.m. from the DAP. The final game will take place on Sunday, April 22 at 1:00 p.m.

NCCU will end the month of April with a non-conference showdown with Norfolk State at Marty Miller Field, site of the 2012 MEAC Baseball Tournament, on April 24 at 4:00 p.m., and then a three-game conference series at Savannah State on April 28 and 29. As with every conference series, the Saturday twinbill will be begin at 1:00 p.m. as will the Sunday series finale.

The final home stretch of the season will see the Florida A&M Rattlers return to the Bull City for a May 5 and 6 three-game set. After the doubleheader on May 5, NCCU baseball will host Senior Day on Sunday, May 6 in the final game of the weekend series against Florida A&M beginning at 1:00 p.m.

The final regular season contest takes place on Wednesday, May 9 at Campbell at 6:00 p.m.

The top four teams in each division will qualify for the 2012 MEAC Baseball Tournament, which has changed location for this year and will take place at Marty Miller Field on the campus of Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va.

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