MOBILE, Ala. – The 2017 University of South Alabama baseball schedule features seven NCAA Regional participants from a year ago, 26 home games – including the 2016 national champion as well as two Southeastern Conference opponents – and two round-robin tournaments, as announced Monday by head coach Mark Calvi.
USA will play five consecutive home games to open the season. The Jags will host Eastern Illinois (Feb.17-19), followed by a pair of midweek contests with Alabama A&M (Feb. 21-22).
South Alabama will then head to Waco, Texas, for a three-game series at Baylor (Feb. 24-26). USA will return to Stanky Field to host New Orleans (Feb. 28) before traveling to Pensacola, Fla., for the 2017 Cox Diamond Invitational for a round-robin tournament with Southeastern Louisiana (March 3), Troy (March 4) and Seton Hall (March 5).
The Jags will then return to Stanky Field to host Auburn (March 7) before heading to Starkville, Miss., for a round-robin tournament at Mississippi State (March 10-12). South Alabama will then host Southeastern Louisiana (March 14) before hitting the road to open Sun Belt Conference play at Georgia Southern (March 17-19).
“Any program that has postseason aspirations, if you are going to advance in the postseason then you have to beat teams like Mississippi State – SEC, ACC and Big 12-type teams in this area,” Calvi said. “We’re going to be sent to one of their regionals or they are going to be sent to ours. We try to play those teams, this way hopefully when our kids are in a position to be in the postseason, they’re not shocked by anyone or anything – large crowds, a guy throwing 95-96 (mph) or a lefty throwing 92-plus. You just can’t have your guys surprised in postseason. We want to make sure we take care of that on the front end and play the most competitive schedule that we can. Our kids know that coming in to this program; our schedule is one of our recruiting tools.
“If you talk about being a postseason team and going to the College World Series, then you have to back it up. This is one of the ways we try to back it up, and our guys know that. They know when they come to South Alabama that they are going to play the highest brand of baseball, not just in the Sun Belt Conference but in our non-conference schedule as well.”
USA will head to Alabama State (March 21) before hosting Georgia State (March 24-26) in a three-game SBC series at Stanky Field. The Jags will then begin a nine-game road swing, which will open with a midweek contest at Southern Mississippi (March 28). From there, South Alabama will take on Louisiana-Lafayette (March 31-April 2) in Lafayette, La., followed by a midweek contest at Southeastern Louisiana (April 4). The Jags will then head to Louisiana-Monroe (April 7-9) for a three-game SBC series before closing out the road swing with a midweek contest at New Orleans (April 11).
South Alabama then returns to Stanky Field for a five-game home stand, beginning with 2016 College World Series champion Coastal Carolina (April 13-15). The Jags then host Mississippi State (April 18) and Alabama State (April 19) before heading to Jonesboro, Ark., for a three-game set with Arkansas State (April 21-23).
USA will then open a seven-game home stand at Stanky Field, beginning with Southern Miss (April 25). The Jags then host Texas State (April 28-30) in a three-game SBC series, followed by a three-game conference set with Little Rock (May 5-7).
South Alabama will then head to Baton Rouge, La., for a midweek contest with Louisiana State (May 9), before heading to Boone, N.C., for a three-game SBC series with Appalachian State (May 12-14). USA will close the regular season by hosting Troy (May 18-20) in a three-game conference slate at Stanky Field.
“This is a very competitive league,” Calvi said. “We are excited about Coastal Carolina joining the conference. The more RPI teams you can have built into your schedule, the better off it is for the league. We know it is an extremely competitive conference, and this is an extremely competitive schedule. Our guys are excited about, I think our fans are excited about it as is everyone involved in it. It will be extremely challenging, but if this were easy then it wouldn’t be worth it at the end.”
The SBC Tournament will be held May 24-28 in Statesboro, Ga., followed by the NCAA Regionals June 2-4. The NCAA Super Regionals will take place June 8-11, and the College World Series will be held June 17-28 in Omaha, Neb.