RADFORD, Va. – The 2016 season saw several underclassmen gain valuable experience through one of the toughest schedules in Radford baseball history and the 2017 season will not be any easier as head coach Joe Raccuia will challenge his young roster that features only nine upperclassmen. Raccuia announced the 55-game regular season slate on Wednesday morning; highlighted by perennial powers Virginia, North Carolina and Wake Forest.
“I know the 2017 schedule is another one of those challenging, but we rewarding schedules that we have been able to put together,” Raccuia noted. “The quality of opponents, the strength of their schedules and the conferences they are aligned in are what we need in a schedule.”
Radford’s first 13 games will be played on the road, opening the season on Feb. 17 in Jacksonville, Fla., against North Florida. The three-game series will be the first meeting between the two teams.
The Highlanders will then travel to Elon for the first time since 2010 for a Tuesday matchup, before traveling to Chapel Hill, N.C. for their second weekend series, Feb. 24-26. Radford and North Carolina will take the diamond as opponents for the first time since 1997. The all-time series is tied 1-1.
The New River Showdown begins on the last day of February as the Highlanders travel to Virginia Tech for a 3 p.m. matchup. The Hokies come to Radford April 11 for the final game of the NRV Showdown. RU won the 2016 series, 2-1.
The Highlanders’ third weekend of the season will be spent in Winston-Salem, N.C., as Radford participates in the Wake Forest Invitational, March 3-5. The invitational will see RU play Kent State, Quinnipiac and NCAA Tournament participant Wake Forest. Radford hosted Kent State in a three-game series a season ago, while last playing Quinnipiac and Wake Forest in 2014.
After playing the first 13 games away from RU Baseball Stadium, Radford’s home-opening series is scheduled for March 10-12 in a four-game series against Northern Kentucky. The series will be the first meeting between Norse and Highlanders.
Following a non-conference matchup at ETSU on March 14, the Highlanders will host Rider in its final three-game non-conference home series of the season, Mach 17-19. The all-time series between the Highlanders and Broncs stands at 3-3.
In midweek games, Radford will travel to Appalachian State for the first time since 2009 on March 21 and will host the Mountaineers on April 18.
Radford opens Big South play against Longwood for the second consecutive season, hosting the Lancers for a March 24-26 series.
In addition to Longwood, the Highlanders will host Liberty, High Point and Winthrop in league play. Radford will hit the road for Big South play at Presbyterian, Campbell, Charleston Southern and UNC Asheville.
The Highlanders will travel to Presbyterian and Charleston Southern in the same season for the time since the 2011 season.
For the second consecutive season, Radford will play a game at Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., home of Appalachian League Pulaski Yankees. The Highlanders will host in-state rival VMI on April 28 in a neutral site meeting, before returning to Radford on April 29 and playing the final game of the series at VMI on April 30.
In midweek games against Atlantic Coast Conference NCAA Tournament squads; Radford will travel to Virginia on April 25, while hosting Wake Forest on May 10.
The 2016 regular season will conclude with the Highlanders playing its final seven games at home.
Radford’s quest for its second Big South tournament championship in the last three years will begin May 23 at Lexington County Baseball Stadium in Lexington, S.C.
“We are looking forward to the challenges that are in front of us. This young group is very excited about the upcoming season,” Raccuia added. “This is a typical Radford baseball schedule, where if you want to play at a national level, you have to beat national type teams.”