FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame baseball team’s 2012 schedule will include early-season trips to Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Louisiana along with BIG EAST road series at USF, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova and Connecticut.
Notre Dame’s four BIG EAST home series will include games versus Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. John’s and Rutgers. The Irish home slate will feature midweek games against traditional non-conference rivals, most notably Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Northwestern.
In all, the Irish will play 13 games (St. John’s, Seton Hall, Connecticut, Illinois and Texas State) against teams that reached the 2011 NCAA Tournament and that does not include Notre Dame’s most high-profile road trip. The Irish will travel to Baton Rouge, La., and Alex Box Stadium to face 2009 NCAA College World Series Champion LSU. In addition to meeting former Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri and the Tigers, the Irish will open the weekend with rival Michigan.
“It is pretty obvious we put together a demanding schedule, especially our non-conference slate to open the year,” said second-year head coach Mik Aoki. “We will field a pretty youthful club this spring, but we felt it is important to give those players an good idea about the level of baseball we want to ultimately reach.”
Notre Dame opens the 2012 season in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Fla., area for the fourth annual Big Ten-BIG EAST Baseball Challenge on Feb. 17-19. The Irish play at 1:00 p.m. on Friday against Illinois at the Walter Fuller Complex, 10:00 a.m. on Saturday against Iowa at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium and at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday against Purdue at Al Lang Stadium.
Notre Dame hits the road the following weekend (Feb. 25-26) for the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The Irish will play host to Hofstra in a non-conference three-game tilt. The series opens with a doubleheader at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday and concludes at 12:05 p.m. on Sunday.
Notre Dame then heads to the city of San Marcos and the great state of Texas (March 2-4) for a three-game set with three-time defending Southland Conference champion Texas State. The Bobcats went 1-2 in the Austin Regional a year ago – defeating Princeton, 3-1, and dropping an extra-inning game to Kent State (4-2, 11) and a one-run affair to host Texas (4-3). Texas State and the Irish will open the series at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday, which will be followed by contests at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. CT on Sunday.
Notre Dame’s difficult non-conference slate grows exponentially the following weekend (March 10-12) when the Irish travel to six-time NCAA CWS champion LSU. The Tigers have reached the NCAA regionals in 23 of the last 27 years and advanced to Omaha 15 times along the way. The weekend in the bayou will also feature a reunion, as the Irish will play Mainieri for the first time since he took over the LSU program in June 2006.
Notre Dame opens its spring break with a matchup against rival Michigan on Saturday (first pitch remains to be determined). The Irish will play LSU at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. Notre Dame then plays a day-night doubleheader with the Wolverines (10:30 a.m. CT) and Tigers (6:30 p.m. CT) on Monday before hopping on a bus and heading back to Texas for their annual trip to San Antonio (March 14-18).
Notre Dame faces Texas-San Antonio on Wednesday at Wolff Stadium before it plays host to the Irish Baseball Classic over the weekend. The rest of the field includes Houston Baptist (4:00 p.m., Thursday), Kansas (Noon, Friday) and Indiana State (Noon, Saturday). The Irish will play a fourth game that weekend against one of the previous three schools depending on their round-robin finish.
Each of the 12 BIG EAST baseball teams is again scheduled to play nine others in three-game series (Notre Dame will not face West Virginia or Louisville in the 2012 regular season). All but one of the series involving Notre Dame will be three-day series, with a nine-inning doubleheader scheduled for April 5 at Seton Hall over Easter weekend (series concludes on Sat., Apr. 7). Fans are reminded that the road series versus Georgetown (Bethesda, Md./Povich Field; April 20-22) and Villanova (Plymouth Meeting, Pa./Villanova Ballpark; May 4-6) are played at off-campus venues.
In addition to those games mentioned above, dates for Notre Dame’s other BIG EAST road series include March 30-April 1 at USF and May 17-19 at Connecticut. The BIG EAST home series are March 23-25 vs. Pittsburgh, April 13-15 vs. Cincinnati, April 27-29 vs. St. John’s and May 11-13 vs. Rutgers.
The BIG EAST Tournament again will be played under an eight-team format from May 23-27, at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Fla. The format will mirror the College World Series with two four-team brackets playing double-elimination games on the first four days. The bracket winners then will meet in a single title game on May 27.