NORMAN – First-year University of Oklahoma head baseball coach Skip Johnson released the Sooners’ 2018 schedule on Tuesday afternoon. Oklahoma begins a 56-game slate on Friday, February 16 at the Bash on the Beach hosted by 2016 College World Series champion Coastal Carolina.
The 2018 schedule features 32 games against 13 teams that reached the 2017 NCAA Tournament. OU will play 21 of its games against nine teams that finished with top-50 RPIs and 32 games against teams in the top-100.
Opening day sees the Sooners pitted against Indiana (Feb. 16) at TicketReturn.com Field, home of the Chicago Cubs’ Single-A affiliate Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Oklahoma then plays on campus against Coastal Carolina (Feb. 17) and South Alabama (Feb. 17) before wrapping up opening weekend against Virginia Tech (Feb. 18) back on the Pelicans’ field.
“I think it’s good to be on the road early and face a couple of teams with Omaha experience,” stated Johnson. “A tournament like this will serve as a good barometer for where your program is. It’ll be an environment that will make our team better.”
Three of the Sooners’ four opponents in the first weekend of action finished with top-60 RPIs in 2017, including South Alabama at 32. Oklahoma, which reached the Louisville Regional as a two seed last year, ended 2017 with a RPI of 29. USA and Indiana (RPI 34) both appeared in regionals as well.
The Sooners return to L. Dale Mitchell Park for their home opener against Abilene Christian on Tuesday, February 21. That game marks the beginning of a stretch of 25 games out of 27 played at home. Oklahoma welcomes Holy Cross (Feb. 23-24), a regional team a year ago, and Valparaiso (Feb. 24-25) for its first home weekend.
After a midweek game at Dallas Baptist (Feb. 27), the Sooners host Alabama (Mar. 2-4) out of the Southeastern Conference. The homestand continues against DBU (Mar. 6), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Mar. 9-11), Texas Southern (Mar. 13-14) and Kennesaw State (Mar. 16-18). The Patriots won the Missouri Valley Tournament and participated in the 2017 postseason along with Texas Southern; the SWAC Tournament Champions.
“I think Alabama is a good draw for us,” continued Johnson. “We look forward to hosting a historically-good SEC team. Just seeing the name Oklahoma and Alabama going against one another is exciting and I think our fans will be excited about it. The Big 12 was the top league most of the year last year and playing a school from a deep conference like the SEC is going to help us heading toward conference play.”
Wichita State (Mar. 20) welcomes OU to Eck Stadium for its only road game in the month of March before the Sooners are back in Norman for seven in a row. Oklahoma opens Big 12 play against West Virginia (Mar. 23-35), takes on Oklahoma State (Mar. 27) in non-conference play and hosts Baylor (Mar. 29-31).
“There’s no doubt in my mind, the Big 12 could be the number one league in the country again,” added Johnson. “Our schedule was designed to both build our résumé and get us ready for league play.”
The Sooners’ are then at Oral Roberts (Apr. 3) before their first road series of the season and first road weekend since the first of the year at TCU (Apr. 6-8). Oklahoma quickly returns home to face Little Rock (Apr. 10), Texas (Apr. 13-15) and ORU (Apr. 17).
A four-game swing through Texas begins with a Big 12 series at Texas Tech (Apr. 20-22) and concludes at UT-Arlington (Apr. 24). The Sooners will then be the road team against Oklahoma State (Apr. 27-29) with game one at Oklahoma City’s Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark and the remaining two games to follow at Tulsa’s ONEOK Field.
The final month of the regular season begins at home against Kansas State (May 4-6). Oklahoma then steps out of conference for a road series at Central Florida (May 11-13). The regular season finale will be on the road as the Sooners wrap up Big 12 play at Kansas (May 17-19).
For the third year in a row, the Big 12 Championship (May 23-27) will take place at Bricktown Ballpark.