NORMAN, Okla. – University of Oklahoma head baseball coach Pete Hughes released his team’s 2017 schedule on Wednesday afternoon. For the first time in five years, the Sooners will open on the road; beginning with opening day at Long Beach State on Friday, February 17 to begin a three-game series. Oklahoma gets the first home game of the slate under its belt on Tuesday, February 21 against Grambling State at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
An evenly balanced schedule features 27 home games, 26 road games, including two trips to the Eastern Time zone and one to the Pacific, and the Bedlam series in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The Sooners play nearly half of its schedule, 24 games, against 10 teams that finished 2016 in the top-75 of the RPI ratings. A total of 18 games come against seven opponents that appeared in a NCAA Regional; eight of which will be played at home.
“It’s my responsibility to put our team in position, scheduling-wise, to play in the national tournament,” stated Hughes, who heads into his fourth season at the helm of the program. “To do that, you can’t go soft non-conference. You have to have some quality opponents in the non-conference and you’re going to have to go on the road. We’re looking to win on the road and build toughness. To go where we want to go, we need to win on the road. I think there’s a good balance. It is absolutely challenging.”
Following opening weekend in California, Oklahoma is home for 16 games in a row. After two games against Grambling, the Sooners welcome Villanova, Northern Illinois and Boston College for the Sooner Baseball Classic (Feb. 24-26). Hughes previously held the head coaching position at BC, which reached the NCAA Super Regionals last season, from 1999-06.
Oklahoma hosts midweek games against Little Rock (Feb. 26) and Wichita State (Mar. 7) as well as two four-game, weekend series against Central Connecticut State (Mar. 3-5) and Buffalo (Mar. 10-12) before hitting the road.
The Sooners begin a five-game, six-day swing through Georgia with a game at Georgia Tech (Mar. 14), which played in the Gainesville Regional in 2016. A midweek contest at Georgia State (Mar. 15) precedes a series at Kennesaw State (Mar. 17-19).
“Right out of the gate, we go to Long Beach State, who had a breakthrough year last year and they’re really good in their home park. Then we come home and play in a tournament, which includes upstart Boston College that had a Cinderella year last year. That stretch in Atlanta is designed for RPI and to get better on the road before we head into conference play. That will be a pivotal week for us.”
Oklahoma gets its final warm up before the start of Big 12 play with a non-conference tilt against Oklahoma State (Mar. 21) in Stillwater. Conference play then opens on the road for the third year in a row at Baylor (Mar. 24-26).
The Sooners welcome Texas Tech (Mar. 31-Apr. 2) for their Big 12 home opener. A midweek, intrastate match-up against Oral Roberts (Apr. 4) at home then bridges the gap before OU crosses the Red River to visit Texas (Apr. 7-9). The Sooners and Golden Eagles (Apr. 11) then take the field again for a rematch in Tulsa.
A weekend off from Big 12 action sees Oklahoma fly north to take on Michigan (Apr. 13-15) in Ann Arbor. A midweek game at Dallas Baptist (Apr. 18) bring the Sooners closer to home before they jump back into league play. Kansas (Apr. 21-23) and Texas-Arlington (Apr. 25) then play in Norman before OU is back on the road.
The Sooners play back-to-back road series for the only time in Big 12 play beginning with West Virginia (Apr. 28-30). Oklahoma then visits Kansas State (May 5-7). The final home series of the season sees TCU (May 12-14) visit Norman. The Sooners then wrap up the regular season by hosting Oklahoma State (May 18-20). Game one of the Bedlam Series will be played at Tulsa’s ONEOK Field followed by games two and three at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in OKC.
“Hopefully the schedule will prepare us by building a strong enough foundation to head down the home stretch. That’s a pretty tough way to end the season in conference; with TCU and Oklahoma State. Fortunately for us, we get to take the field as the home team in each of those series. To host TCU and then end the regular season with Bedlam is a pretty fun way to lead into the Big 12 Tournament.”
The Big 12 Championship will also be hosted at Bricktown Ballpark beginning on Wednesday, May 24 and running through Sunday, May 28.