Coming off a miraculous run to the 2016 ASUN Baseball title and berth in NCAA Regional Play, the Stetson Hatters are scheduled to host 34 games at Melching Field in 2017, Hall of Fame coach Pete Dunn’s final season at the helm of the program.
The ASUN will also return to DeLand in May to host its championship tournament for a record 16th time since first hosting the event at old Conrad Park in 1989. It will be the 11th time for Melching Field to serve as the host venue for the event.
“The schedule wasn’t designed to have any special purpose, but it is a good schedule with a good mix of home games,” Dunn said. “We’ll face a number of very good programs during the year and, if we play well, it will help us when it comes time for the post-season.”
Among those home games are non-conference tilts against both Florida and Florida State.
“We are happy to have the Gators back on the schedule home-and-home,” Dunn said. “There are a lot of Gators fans in the area that will be happy about that. Of course having FSU is always a big game. I am also looking forward to having FIU in for a couple of games. Mervyl Melendez, who used to be at Bethune-Cookman, is there now as the head coach.
“We open up against Southern Illinois again this year, which we did a few years ago, and they always have a great team. We also have a very strong field for the Stetson Invitational, which is a great event and a chance for our fans to see some good college baseball.”
The Hatters will open the season the weekend of February 17-19 against Southern Illinois from the Missouri Valley Conference. Stetson last played the Salukis during the 2012 season when they took part in the Stetson Invitational.
A season-opening eight game home stand will continue with a pair of mid-week games against Siena College. The Saints have been regulars on the Stetson schedule for many years, including a pair of games last spring. The Hatters have dominated the series, winning six straight and 39 of 43 overall.
The only first time opponent on the Stetson schedule this spring is the High Point Panthers from the Big South. High Point tied for second in the league last year behind eventual national champion Coastal Carolina, including a 5-2 win in Conway, SC.
After a single game at county rival Bethune-Cookman on February 28, the Hatters will open the month of March by hosting the Stetson Invitational, with St. Joseph’s, Connecticut and Western Michigan in town for the round robin event. It will be the 22nd edition of the tournament since it was first held in Dunn’s first season as head coach, 1980.
Stetson will host Seton Hall from the Big East for a two-game mid-week series before going on the first true road trip of the year, to Charleston, SC, for a three-game set against The Citadel. The Hatters swept the Bulldogs at home last spring.
The Hatters return to Melching Field March 14 to open a six-game home stand with a pair of games against FIU. Fairfield will come in for a three-game series March 17-19 before the Hatters host national power Florida on March 21.
Stetson will make a trip west to New Orleans for a three-game series against perennial NCAA team Tulane the weekend of March 24 before paying the first of two visits to Tampa for a game against USF on March 28.
“It has been a long time since we played Tulane,” Dunn said. “A lot of alums remember when we made the big spring break trip to play South Alabama, LSU and Tulane many years ago. We are returning a trip to The Citadel. I want to make sure to get our kids on their campus so they can experience the atmosphere of a military academy.”
The 2017 ASUN schedule will start on March 31 when the Hatters host NJIT. It will be the first of three straight home league series to open the year, with FGCU (April 7-9) and Kennesaw State (April 13-15) a part of that run.
“It is always nice every other year when we get to play more conference games at home,” Dunn said. “Having the ASUN Tournament back at Melching Field this year makes that even better.”
In between those three league series the Hatters will travel to Gainesville to face the Gators (April 4), followed by the renewal of the series against UCF in Orlando (April 5). USF will visit Melching Field on April 11.
The Hatters will embark on a tough road trip April 18 with a stop in Tallahassee for two games against Florida State before heading to Spartanburg, SC, for a league series against USC Upstate.
The Seminoles will make their annual trip to DeLand for a game on April 25. The Hatters will go back to Tampa for another game with USF the next night before having a rare weekend off at the end of the month so the players can focus on final exams.
Following the break, the Hatters will host Bethune-Cookman (May 2) before travelling to Jacksonville for a series against JU (May 5-7). Stetson will then close out the home portion of the regular season against North Florida (May 12-14) before ending the year at Lipscomb (May 18-20).
The ASUN Championship is scheduled to open play at Melching Field on May 24 and run through the 28th.