BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU head baseball coach John Pawlowski announced the 2016 schedule for his debut season as the coach of the Hilltoppers on Tuesday, which includes games with six 2015 NCAA Regional teams, five regular-season or conference tournament champions and a fixture with the 2015 College World Series Finalist Vanderbilt.
The 2016 slate is highlighted by 14 games against programs that played in the NCAA Regionals from a year ago, with Super Regional participant Louisville (March 29), Lipscomb (March 2) and C-USA Champion FIU (April 29-May 1) all coming to Bowling Green. A midweek game against the 2014 national champion Commodores (May 3) and a trip to Athens, Georgia, to play Georgia, Cincinnati and Sun Belt regular season champion South Alabama in the Bulldog Invitational (Feb. 26-28) round out a difficult non-conference schedule.
“Our staff and players are very excited for the challenging schedule we have put together for the upcoming season,” said Pawlowski about his first schedule since coming to The Hill. “Not only do we play some of the top competition out of conference, but it is also a great honor to be a part of a premier baseball conference like Conference USA.”
WKU’s home schedule also features three teams that qualified for the 2015 C-USA Championship, with long-time rivals Middle Tennessee (March 24-26) and UTSA (April 22-24) joining tournament champions FIU as teams coming to Nick Denes Field. The Hilltoppers will also host Louisiana Tech (April 8-10) and Marshall (May 13-15) in conference play, while local foes Austin Peay (March 22), Evansville (April 5) and Belmont (April 19) all come to Bowling Green for midweek games.
On the road in conference action, the Hilltoppers will face a pair of squads that progressed to the NCAA Tournament in defending regular season champion Rice (April 15-17) and Florida Atlantic (May 19-21), with trips to UAB (April 1-3) and Southern Miss (May 6-7) also on the schedule. The Golden Eagles will again serve as the host for the C-USA Championship in Hattiesburg, Mississippi from May 25-29.
The Hilltoppers will open the season at home for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons as WKU welcomes Youngstown State at Nick Denes Field for the 2016 curtain raiser for a series from Feb. 19-21. The opening series in conference play will come away from home, as Pawlowski’s squad travels to Norfolk, Virginia, to play Old Dominion (March 18-20).
WKU wrapped up fall ball with the Fall World Series and will return to practice on January 29.