MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois baseball head coach Ryan Brownlee announced the 2017 schedule, with 19 games set for Alfred D. Boyer Stadium. The Fighting Leathernecks will face four programs that advanced to last year’s NCAA Regionals.
“Every year we put together a balanced schedule. I want to challenge our players during the non-conference season to help prepare us for the Summit League schedule,” said Brownlee. “We will play at perennial power Mississippi State (#1 Regional seed in 2016), face two other Regional qualifiers in Southeast Missouri on the road for a weekend series and Wright State for a single game. Our Spring Break trip will be a good challenge because in addition to the Raiders, we will face Dayton, Ohio and two midweek games at Kent State, a 43-game winner from last year who I feel was snubbed from making the post-season as an at-large.”
The Leathernecks open at Mississippi State (Feb. 17-19) for a three-game series, then follow that the next weekend at Southeast Missouri (Feb. 24-26).
March opens with a weekend series at Southern Illinois (March 3-5). The Spring Break trip opens on Friday, March 10, against Wright State in Dayton. The Leathernecks will play a doubleheader the next day against Dayton then close out the weekend versus Ohio (March 15) in Dayton.
Two games at Kent State on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 14-15) will be the final preparation before the start of Summit League play at home versus Fort Wayne (March 17-19). Western plays host to St. Ambrose on March 22 before another home conference weekend against North Dakota State (March 24-26) and midweek against Bradley (March 29) to close out the eight-game homestand.
Western travels to Oral Roberts (March 31-April 2), SIU-Edwardsville (April 4), Omaha (April 7-9) and Iowa (April 11) for eight straight away from Macomb.
The Leathernecks face South Dakota State at home (April 14-16), then finish the season series against SIUE on the 18th at home. Games at Fort Wayne (April 21-23) and Illinois State (April 25) and a home series against Omaha (April 28-30) close out the month.
May opens with a home game against Iowa on the 2nd. Summit League play resumes with a weekend series at SDSU (May 5-7) and NDSU (May 12-14) before closing out the regular season at home versus ORU (May 18-20). The top four teams will advance to the postseason tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma, starting on May 24.
“One of the great things about being at Western, we have so many quality opponents within our area to play midweek. We will play another home-and-home series with Iowa and SIU-Edwardsville, play St. Ambrose again at home along with Bradley, then travel to Illinois State,” said Brownlee. “We got off to a great start last year in Summit League play, and now with another year of experience under our belts we need to take that next step and make a sustained run at the regular season championship. If you finish among the ‘Top 4’ and make the postseason tournament, anything can happen that weekend.”