Baylor baseball head coach Steve Smith announced the Bears’ 2008 schedule Wednesday. The 55-game regular season slate includes 31 games at Baylor Ballpark, including the third-annual QTI Baylor Classic.
The Bears open the 2008 season with nine consecutive home games, starting with a three-game series Feb. 22-24 against Purdue. Baylor welcomes Illinois, Illinois-Chicago and Stephen F. Austin for the QTI Baylor Classic Feb. 29 through March 2.
2008 season tickets go on sale Dec. 1. For more ticket information, contact the Baylor Ticket Office at 254.710.1000 or 1.800.BAYLOR.U.
Baylor’s 2008 schedule features 25 games (45.4 percent of schedule) against 10 opponents who participated in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, including nine games against 2007 Super Regional participants and a three-game series at 2007 College World Series participant Mississippi State (March 7-9). The Bears play 18 games against six opponents who finished the 2007 season ranked in the Baseball America Top 25.
From March 7 to March 23, Baylor plays 12 consecutive games against teams who participated in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. The Bears play 10 of 12 games against 2007 tournament teams from April 18 to May 4.
“This is a good schedule, both for the players and the fans,” Smith said. “It gives the players a chance to be in a familiar environment in the season’s first nine games and again to open Big 12 play. Plus, fans have plenty of opportunities at various points in the season to not only see us play but to see us play top-level competition.”
Due to new NCAA legislation, no Division I program can start its season prior to Feb. 22. This means only three weekends of non-conference play before Big 12 Conference play begins the weekend of March 14; Baylor hosts Oklahoma State to start Big 12 play this season. The new legislation also means an increase in the number of midweek games.
“I’m very much in favor of the universal start date,” Smith said. “I wish the end of the season had been pushed back some to compensate, but it is what it is. All teams must adjust to only three weeks prior to conference play, and all teams must play two midweek games on a regular basis, so there’s no competitive advantage one way or the other. What the new format does allow is more opportunities for pitchers, and that is a definite plus.”
Along with the traditional split-series in Big 12 play, Baylor also hosts Texas for a midweek non-conference tilt April 22. The Bears and the Longhorns meet May 2-4 in Big 12 action with the series opener at Baylor Ballpark and the series’ final two games at Austin.
“We’ve wanted to play Texas in a midweek non-conference game for a while, and the new schedule format made this game even more practical,” Smith said. “Obviously, this is a great opportunity for fans to see two of the conference’s top programs in another game. More than that, though, it is an opportunity for both teams to play top competition in a midweek game. This helps our RPI, Texas’ RPI and the conference’s RPI.”
Baylor’s split-series against Texas A&M is April 18-20 with the series opener at College Station and the series’ final two games at Baylor Ballpark. Other Big 12 schools visiting Waco this season are Oklahoma State (March 14-16), Kansas (April 4-6) and Nebraska (April 25-27). Baylor travels to Missouri (March 21-23), Oklahoma (March 28-30), Kansas State (April 11-13) and Texas Tech (May 16-18) this season in Big 12 play. The 2008 Big 12 Championship is May 21-25 at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
Last season, Baylor’s strength of schedule ranked 20th nationally; the Bears joined Texas (10th), Portland (15th), Texas A&M (17th) and Georgia (18th) as the only teams in the top 20 not from the state of California. Baylor’s strength of schedule has ranked 20th or better nationally in each of the past seven seasons: 10th in 2006, seventh in 2005, 11th in 2004, fifth in 2003, seventh in 2002 and 10th in 2001.
Baylor returns 19 letterwinners, six position starters and eight pitchers from a 2007 squad that posted a 36-27 record and reached the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in 10 years.
Baylor Press Release.