While the spring is still months away, it’s never too early to start lining up travel plans to follow the Dons across the country in 2017 as their schedule will take them to Honolulu, Conway, South Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona, among other destinations.
The Dons’ 2017 slate features nonconference matchups with 2016 NCAA Regional participants in defending national champion Coast Carolina and Utah Valley, in addition to tournament participants from the West Coast Conference – Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga.
The 55-game schedule includes 22 home dates and 33 road contests. “The obvious difference this year is that we play 22 home games, which is a lot more than we played last year,” said head coach Nino Giarratano, who is entering his 19th year on the Hilltop.
“You look at that and then you look at the competition we’ll be playing. Most notably we go to Coastal Carolina and play them twice. Going to Hawaii will be a good series for us. We’ll play Stanford, who will be much improved, and Cal, who will be very much improved. We’ve got Utah Valley, who’s coming off a Regional bid. And then going to Grand Canyon during nonconference; they had a really good run last year.
“Opening against Northern Colorado is going to be good for us, to finally play our first three games at home. We haven’t been able to do that in a long time.”
USF will open the season at home with a three-game set against Northern Colorado Feb. 17-19.
A four-game series in Hawaii awaits the Dons the following weekend. USF and UH met last season with the Dons taking two of three at home.
After a Tuesday home contest against Utah Valley on Feb. 28, USF will traverse the continent and head to Conway, S.C. for a tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina Mar. 3-5. Winthrop and Albany are also slated to be participating. The Dons are tentatively scheduled to face Winthrop and Albany once and Coastal Carolina twice over the weekend.
The Dons will be headed to Phoenix for a three-game series at Grand Canyon Mar. 10-12. USF and GCU met for a single game in 2016, with Grand Canyon earning a 6-5 win.
USF will host Mountain West-champion Fresno State for a midweek matchup on Mar. 15 leading into the first WCC series of the year against Loyola Marymount Mar. 17-19 at Benedetti Diamond.
Nevada will be USF’s midweek opponent at home on Mar. 21 before the Dons kick off a season-long eight-game road swing when they travel to Spokane, Wash. for a conference series at Gonzaga.
After traveling to Nevada for another Tuesday contest against the Wolfpack, USF hits the road again for a three-game set at San Diego Mar. 31-Apr. 2, followed by a single nonconference game at San Diego State the following Monday.
The Dons will return home to host Saint Mary’s Apr. 7-9. From there, USF will enjoy the rest of their WCC home dates against Portland (Apr. 13-15) and Pepperdine (May 5-7), while heading out on the road to face Santa Clara (Apr. 21-23), BYU (Apr. 27-29) and Pacific (May 19-21).
Pac-12 opponents Cal and Stanford are back on the schedule, as usual. The Dons will play midweek games at Cal on Apr. 25 and May 2 before heading to Sunken Diamond for a Tuesday meeting at Stanford on May 9.
“I think overall, you look at the balance and it’s a solid schedule for us,” Giarratano said. “I think the schedule will allow us to be in a position to be very successful, earn a high RPI and hopefully earn a spot in the conference tournament.”
The WCC Tournament is lined up for May 25-27 at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.