SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The 2017 Missouri State baseball schedule will feature a total of 54 games, including 23 home dates and match-ups against six different 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, head coach Keith Guttin announced Tuesday. In all, the Bears are slated to play 29 games against 13 different opponents that rated among the top 125 RPI-finishers a year ago, including 13 contests against NCAA Regional qualifiers.
Highlighting the home portion of the schedule will be three-game non-conference series against Central Arkansas (March 3-5) and Memphis (March 17-19), as well as midweek games regional rivals Oral Roberts (March 28), Kansas (April 4), Arkansas (April 11) and Missouri (April 25). The Bears will host four Missouri Valley Conference weekend series, beginning with a three-game league-opening set against Bradley (March 31-April 2) and continuing with match-ups against Dallas Baptist (April 7-9), Wichita State (April 21-23) and Indiana State (May 12-14).
The Bears, who finished with a 38-21 season record this past spring, will welcome back 15 letterwinners, including six position starters and the bulk of a deep 2016 pitching staff. Junior third baseman Jake Burger returns after earning All-America honors each of his first two seasons as a Bear, as does senior closer Bryan Young and three-year regulars Blake Graham and Aaron Meyer.
Missouri State opens the season with a visit to Lake Charles, La., for a three-game tournament that will include games against Rhode Island (Feb. 17), Stony Brook (Feb. 18) and host McNeese State (Feb. 19) at the Cowboy Diamond. After a trip to Tulsa for the first of two 2017 midweek meetings with Oral Roberts (Feb. 21), the following weekend will feature true road games against Belmont (Feb. 24), Lipscomb (Feb. 25) and Middle Tennessee (Feb. 26) as part of the Mule Mix Classic, hosted by the same three Nashville-area schools.
The Bears will renew their rivalry with Arkansas State in a two-game set in Jonesboro (Feb. 28-March 1), then open the gates at Hammons Field for the first time March 3, when they begin a three-game series against Central Arkansas. MSU hits the road once again with a single non-conference game at Oklahoma State (March 7), which will be coming off a 2016 season that saw the Cowboys go 43-22 and make their first College World Series appearance since 1999. A three-game showdown with Minnesota (March 10-12) — yet another NCAA-qualifying club from a year ago – awaits the Bears in the Twin Cities, where the two squads will move the action indoors to U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings.
A midweek tilt at Saint Louis (March 14) precedes MSU’s three-game home series with Memphis, and non-league home dates with New Orleans (March 21) and ORU (March 28) will sandwich a trek to Mount Pleasant, Mich., for three games against Central Michigan (March 24-26).
The Maroon and White will open their 27th season in The Valley with a home series against a Bradley club that is coming off its most-successful two-year stretch in 20 seasons. The opening game of the three-game set with the Braves will serve as the nightcap of a doubleheader at Hammons Field, as the Double-A Springfield Cardinals will host the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5:05 p.m. exhibition. The Bears will then host Kansas in the initial leg of the two clubs’ annual home-and-home series, before welcoming reigning MVC champion Dallas Baptist to Hammons Field for what figures to be a pivotal three-game conference series.
A trip to Albuquerque, N.M., for three games against New Mexico (April 13-15), as well as the road end of MSU’s home-and-home with Missouri (April 18) follows an April 11 home affair with Arkansas that will conclude a nine-game home stand for the Bears. Next, another home Valley series against Wichita State will precede Mizzou’s return trip to Hammons Field on April 25, before the Bears kick off the first of back-to-back MVC road weekends with a trek to Evansville (April 28-30).
The month of May gets underway with MSU visiting Kansas (May 2) and Southern Illinois (May 5-7), before the Bears wind down the regular season with their final Valley home series against Indiana State and a trip to Normal, Ill., to meet Illinois State (May 18-20).
The 2017 MVC Baseball Championship returns to Hammons Field for the first time in five years and the fourth time overall, May 24-27, with the champion earning the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid. The 2017 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show will air May 29, with Regional play beginning the weekend of June 2. The 2017 Men’s College World Series kicks off June 17 and culminates with the Finals, June 26-28.
The 2017 season will mark the Bears’ 35th year at the Division I level. Ticket information for the upcoming season is currently being finalized and will be made available through the official web home of Missouri State Athletics, MissouriStateBears.com, when it becomes available.