FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
DeLAND–Home contests with Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss, NC State, and Boston College highlight Stetson’s 2014 baseball schedule, which head coach Pete Dunn announced on Wednesday.
The Hatters also visit South Carolina for a pair of mid-week games in early March and face a total of seven 2013 post-season squads. Stetson also is slated to play 13 games against either SEC or ACC foes, making this one of Dunn’s most challenging slates in his 35 years at the helm.
“This schedule is as strong as I can remember in my 35 years as a head coach,” said Dunn. “I can say with confidence we’ve never played 13 combined games against SEC and ACC opponents in the same season. It’s really nice for our fans because nine of those games are at home. It gives them a good opportunity to see the two strongest baseball conferences in the nation.”
Stetson opens the season Feb. 14 with a three-game weekend series against Ole Miss at Melching Field. Following a midweek game at Florida International (Feb. 19), the Hatters return home for a three-game series against ACC foe Boston College.
The Stetson Invitational runs Feb. 28 through March 2 and features Iowa, Furman and Maine. Stetson visits South Carolina for a pair of midweek games March 4 and 5 in Columbia, S.C.
“We began talking to the coaches at South Carolina right after we played up there in the 2011 regional,” said Dunn. “We had such a great experience in Columbia for regionals and we knew we wanted to go back as soon as possible.”
Dunn knows the relatively young Hatters will be tested early.
“These are the types of teams we’re going to face in the post-season. When you match up with the teams we’re facing early on you’re going to find out pretty quick what you’re made of,” said Dunn. “We had a really young team last season, so we’ll see how much our young kids have matured in the last year.”
A weekend series with long-time non-conference foe Siena (March 8-10) precedes back-to-back home games with NC State (March 11) and Miami (March 12). The Hurricanes will be making their first visit to DeLand since 1995.
“There was a time when Miami came up to play us on a fairly regular basis, but that hasn’t been the case in the last several years,” said Dunn. “We’ve always gone down to Coral Gables to play so it’s nice to get some reciprocation and see the Hurricanes make their way to DeLand.
“It’s very important for our program to play Miami. South Florida used to be a strong recruiting base for us and since FIU left the conference we’ve kind of lost our presence down there the last few years. I’m happy we have Miami on the schedule. It’s good for us and good for them.”
After a three-game home series with Yale (March 14-16) and a midweek game at USF (March 18), the Hatters open A-Sun play with a three game series at defending tournament champion East Tennessee State (March 21-23).
The Hatters open the home portion of their A-Sun slate with a three-game series against Florida Gulf Coast (March 28-30).
Stetson close out the non-conference portion of the schedule by hosting Florida State at Melching Field on May 6.
“We’ve had a great relationship with Mike Martin and his staff at Florida State for a long time” said Dunn. “It’s always great to be able to play the Seminoles in DeLand.”
The A-Sun Tournament is set for May 21-25 in Fort Myers. FGCU is the tournament host.
The Hatters return six everyday players and their entire starting rotation from last season’s 26-31 squad, which consisted of primarily freshmen and sophomores. Headlining the returnees is sophomore first baseman Patrick Mazeika, the 2013 Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year. Mazeika batted .382 with three home runs and 33 RBI en route to also earning first-team All-A-Sun honors and multiple Freshman All-America awards.