Charlotte will continue their tradition of scheduling tough non-conference opponents beginning right out of the gates hosting West Virginia (36-22) for a three-game season-opening series February 17-19 inside Hayes Stadium. The Mountaineers played in their first-ever Big 12 Championship game last season falling to TCU in extra innings.
Following opening weekend, the schedule won’t get any easier as the first road game of the year will take the 49ers down to Columbia to battle the nationally-ranked Gamecocks of South Carolina. USC posted a 46-18 record winning their own Columbia Regional before being swept by Oklahoma State in the best-of-three Super Regional. The 49ers and Gamecocks will meet for the first time since the NCAA Regional back in 2008 on February 21.
The Niners annual home doubleheader will take place with Rider coming to town February 24-26 with the twin bill set for Saturday the 25th.
N.C. State will appear for the first of their two annual contests against the 49ers on March 1 as Charlotte heads to Raleigh. The Wolfpack will make the return trip to Charlotte on March 28 for the annual Uptown showdown at BB&T Ballpark. The Wolfpack hosted a regional last season being knocked off by eventual National Champion Coastal Carolina in the championship game.
The final non-conference series of the year will feature Xavier out of the Big East and a renewal of the in-state rivalry with East Carolina out of the AAC. Xavier will be the final home series before C-USA play begins on March 3-5 coming off of another NCAA appearance in the Nashville Regional. Charlotte will then embark on a trip over to Greenville to battle with ECU who is coming off of a Super Regional appearance at Texas Tech after winning the Charlottesville Regional at UVA.
After midweek tilts with N.C. A&T and UNC Asheville, Charlotte will begin the grueling 30-game Conference USA slate the weekend of March 17-19 traveling down to Miami opening up at FIU. The Niners opened up 2016 league play by taking two-of-three from the Panthers at Hayes Stadium.
Following the opening weekend of C-USA play, Wake Forest will come to Hayes Stadium on March 21 before Louisiana Tech visits for the C-USA home opener March 24-26. Louisiana Tech knocked the 49ers out of the year-end tournament in Hattiesburg before falling to Mississippi State in the Starkville Regional.
The month of March will end with a trip to Norfolk for a three-game set at Old Dominion as the Niners make their third trip to the Virginia coast in four seasons. A home-and-home with Winthrop follows on April 4 in Charlotte and May 16 in Rock Hill.
Florida Atlantic will come to Charlotte April 7-9 for a rematch in what turned out to be a record-setting trip to Boca Raton last season. The Niners took two-of-three from then ranked #12 FAU clinching the series with a school-record setting 15-inning marathon that took 4:27 to play resulting in a wild 7-6 victory. FAU is the second of three NCAA teams sent out by Conference USA.
Western Kentucky appears on the 49ers schedule for the first time since 1988 as the Hilltoppers take the place of Southern Miss in the 30-game league slate. The Niners will head to Bowling Green, Kentucky kicking off the three-game series on Thursday, April 13 due to Easter weekend.
After a rare Monday home game against Western Carolina on April 17 after Easter Sunday, a return trip to Winston-Salem to take on the Demon Deacons follows on April 18 before the Niners jump back into league play hosting Middle Tennessee April 21-23. That four-game homestand will end as Kennesaw State makes a trip to Charlotte returning the trip the 49ers made to Georgia last season.
The next nine contests will all be inside C-USA play as a trip to UAB ends April before back-to-back home series with Rice and UTSA. Charlotte knocked the Blazers out of C-USA Tournament contention scoring a 6-4 victory in the winner-take-all contest back on May 21. Conference power and annual NCAA participant Rice opens the May portion of the schedule the 5-7 before UTSA follows May 12-14 in the 2017 home finales.
Charlotte will round out the regular season at Winthrop on May 16 and take a trip to Marshall for a league-ending three-game series with the rival Herd May 18-20.
Beginning in late May, the city of Biloxi, Mississippi will host the Conference USA Tournament at MGM Park, home of the Biloxi Shuckers. The Shuckers are the double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers who opened up the new ballpark back in June of 2015. Biloxi will serve as the C-USA Tournament host through 2019. Coming off of their first appearance back in the Conference USA tournament, the Niners will look to get back to the year-end tournament again in late May.
“We have a great opportunity this spring,” finished Hibbs. “Our players and coaching staff are excited about the challenges that lie ahead and the chance to compete against elite competition.”
Charlotte, losing just three seniors from a year ago, will look to compete for a C-USA title in late May welcoming back 21 players from 2016. The Niners will also see a couple of transfers who had to sit out last season become eligible while adding nine newcomers in 2017.