FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
NORMAL, Ill. – The defending Missouri Valley Conference Champion Illinois State baseball team unveiled its 54-game 2014 baseball schedule Thursday. The schedule features four opponents who earned 2013 NCAA Tournament bids, six teams that won more than 30 games, and it includes 22 contests at Duffy Bass Field, where admission will remain free for the third-consecutive season.
“We are excited for the 2014 season to arrive, and we are working hard to be prepared,” defending Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year Mark Kingston said. “This schedule will provide us with challenging southern road games early, preparing us for the always tough Missouri Valley Conference. We are also looking forward to our first full home schedule with FieldTurf, allowing our fans many opportunities to see us play.”
Illinois State will play 2013 NCAA Tournament participants Central Arkansas, Illinois, Wichita State and Florida in addition to 30-plus game winners Dallas Baptist and Missouri State.
The Redbirds open the season with a 17-game road trip, starting with a three-game series at Murray State in Kentucky (Feb. 14-16). ISU then makes two trips to the deep south, first visiting Jonesboro, Ark., for a four-game set at Arkansas State (Feb. 21-23) and then traveling to Central Arkansas for a four-game series (Feb. 28-Mar. 2). Following a one-game trip to SIUE (Mar. 3), Illinois State will fly to Florida for five games over spring break. The Redbirds will once again compete in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational in Winter Haven, Fla. Opponents have not yet been determined for the four-game set (Mar. 7-9). ISU will travel to Gainesville, Fla. for a single game at Florida (Mar. 12).
Illinois State will open the home portion of its 2014 schedule with an eight-game home stand, beginning with a three-game series versus Western Illinois (Mar. 14-16). After a return trip from SIUE (Mar. 19), the Redbirds begin Missouri Valley Conference competition with a three-game tilt versus in-state foe Bradley (Mar. 21-23). The home stand concludes with one game versus Big Ten opponent Illinois (Mar. 25).
The Redbirds will visit Indiana State (March 28-30) before returning to Duffy Bass Field for a non-conference game against Eastern Illinois (Apr. 1). The newest Valley-opponent, Dallas Baptist, will visit Normal (Apr. 4-6) for a three-game series.
ISU travels to DeKalb, Ill., to play Northern Illinois (Apr. 8) and continues non-conference play with a pair of games at Duffy Bass Field, welcoming NAIA Robert Morris (Apr. 10) and Division III Webster (Apr. 13). The Redbirds will embark on a five-game road swing beginning with Illinois (Apr. 15). ISU will continue MVC play with a three-game tilt at Missouri State (Apr. 18-20) and participate in the annual Horenberger-Bass Classic at Illinois Wesleyan (Apr. 22).
Illinois State will close April with a five-game home stand, beginning with Division III MacMurray (Apr. 23). Southern Illinois will play a three-game series at Duffy Bass Field (Apr. 25-27) and Big Ten opponent Purdue closes the home stand (Apr. 29).
The Redbirds conclude non-conference play with a three-game series at Western Illinois (May 2-4). After a three-game set at Evansville (May 9-11), Illinois State will conclude the regular season at home versus Wichita State (May 15-17). The 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Championship will be hosted by Indiana State (May 20-24) in Terre Haute, Ind.
Game times, promotions and opponents will all be finalized over the next few weeks. Live audio for all 54 Illinois State games will be available on WJBC.com and GoRedbirds.com, with select broadcasts on WZND 103.3-FM in Bloomington-Normal.
Illinois State enters the 2014 season following its best regular season in school history. The 2013 Redbirds won the Missouri Valley Conference title outright for the first time in school history, won a program-record 39 games and had a MVC record eight first-team all-Valley selections.