Southern Illinois returns all three weekend starters and seven of its top eight hitters from last year’s 31-win team. SIU returns 100 percent of its weekend pitching starts and 88 percent of its starts from position players.
In 2017, SIU will face three teams that played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, including a home series vs. Dallas Baptist. The Salukis open the season on Friday, February 17, with a three-game series at Stetson, which won the A-SUN tournament and competed in the Coral Gables NCAA Regional last year.
“We are excited about this schedule,” SIU head coachKen Hendersonsaid. “The non-conference portion, especially playing four of the first five weekends on the road, will be challenging but should be good preparation for the always tough MVC slate. We will find out a lot about ourselves opening weekend when we face a good Stetson program.”
The Salukis have five home-and-home midweek series, including one against Southeast Missouri, the third NCAA Tournament team on the 2017 schedule. The Salukis also have home-and-homes with Arkansas State, Austin Peay, Belmont and Murray State.
After the season-opening series at Stetson, Southern visits Louisiana-Monroe (Feb. 24-26) for a three-game set the following weekend before the home-opening weekend vs. Western Illinois on March 3.
The Salukis travel to Memphis (March 10-12) for a series and follow that with a four-game weekend at Illinois. In Champaign, SIU opens with two games vs. Toledo (March 17-18) before playing two more against the host Illini (March 18-19).
From that point on, 24 of the final 36 games are at home and another is at Rent One Park in Marion. Southern Illinois hosts Jacksonville State (March 24-26) for a weekend series before opening Missouri Valley Conference play against Evansville (March 31-April 2) at Itchy Jones Stadium.
“I am also excited for our fans,” Henderson said. “They will get to see some really good home series, including playing four of the last five weekends of the year at Itchy Jones Stadium. Our fan support has always been incredible, and that will be important for our success in the MVC.”
Mid-week home games against Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri break up back-to-back road series at Wichita State (April 7-9) and Indiana State (April 14-16). The Salukis return home on April 18 for a stretch of 14 out of 15 games at home. SIU hosts Tennessee Tech (April 21-23) before three-straight MVC home series against Dallas Baptist (April 28-30), Missouri State (May 5-7) and Illinois State (May 12-14).
SIU closes the regular season with a road series at Bradley (May 16-18). The MVC Tournament will be held from May 23-27 in Springfield Missouri and NCAA Regionals start the following week.