“One of the things we’ve always been able to do is put together a very attractive home and road schedule that enhances three things,” head coach Daron Schoenrock said. “We want to showcase our city with the baseball history that we have here and we want to showcase our facility with the upgrades that have been done. We want to enhance our players chances of being seen in player development on a professional level. This schedule also provides the opportunity to advance to postseason play based on the RPI formula.”
The Tigers will play eight teams that participated in the 2013 NCAA Championship for a total of 17 games, including Austin Peay, Central Arkansas (3), Louisville (3), Mississippi State, Ole Miss (2), Saint Louis (3), UConn (3) and Vanderbilt. Mississippi State was the national runner-up and Louisville also participated in the 2013 College World Series. “I’m excited that this team will get the challenge of playing 17 games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Regionals last year,” Schoenrock said. “Two of the teams on our schedule went to the College World Series and that’s where we want to go. This presents a tremendous challenge and we look forward to the slate of games at FedExPark.”
Memphis’ 2014 campaign commences with a three-game series against Western Michigan (Feb. 14-16) at FedExPark. It will mark the fourth-straight season the Tigers open the season at home. The Tigers host SEMO (Feb. 28-March 2), Central Arkansas (March 7-9) and Alcorn State (April 18-20) in non-conference series while travelling to Samford (Feb. 21-23) and Saint Louis (March 14-16).
“With those first five weeks we like to call the preseason that precedes the conference schedule, we’ve elected to start going on the road some,” Schoenrock said. “Position player wise we will be ready for the challenge with the experience we have, but it will be a good test for a relatively young pitching staff. The way the RPI formula is built now, playing on the road is very important.”
The Tigers play their first American Athletic Conference series on the home field with Temple visiting the Bluff City March 21-23. Memphis also hosts UCF (April 11-13), UConn (May 3-4) and Rutgers (May 15-17) in American Athletic Conference play.
Memphis visits Houston (March 28-30) for their first American Athletic Conference series on the road. The Tigers other league road series take them to Louisville (April 4-6), USF (April 25-27) and Cincinnati (May 9-11).
The U of M hosts five midweek contests at FedExPark, including contests against Belmont (Feb. 26), Murray State (March 18), Arkansas State (April 15), Mississippi Valley State (April 29) and UT Martin (May 13). Memphis plays the annual game at AutoZone Park against Ole Miss on April 16.
New this season, Memphis will meet Austin Peay in a game called The University of Memphis W.S. ‘Babe’ Howard Classic. The April 9 meeting will take place at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn. The Tigers also have a neutral site match up with Vanderbilt on April 22 and the Ballpark at Jackson. The tilt against Vanderbilt will mark the first meeting between the in-state foes since 2008.
“Babe Howard was such an instrumental figure in promoting baseball in this area,” Schoenrock said. “He’s done so much for youth baseball and we wanted to do something to honor his legacy. Going back to Millington once a year is something that we are very excited about and happy to do in honor of Babe.”
“Vanderbilt has had tremendous success over the years and myself and (Vanderbilt) Coach Corbin are trying to make this a yearly event,” Schoenrock said. “As we move forward, we continue to talk about a home-and-home, but right now meeting a neutral site at a halfway point between the two cities makes sense. It gives some fans in the Jackson area a chance to see the Tigers.”
Memphis travels to Mississippi State (Feb. 19), Ole Miss (March 5), Belmont (March 11), Arkansas State (March 25) and Middle Tennessee (April 1-2) for midweek games.
The American Athletic Conference Championship is slated for May 22-25 in Clearwater, Fla.