Paul Mainieri is one of the most organized head coaches in college baseball. Add to that the incredible support Mainieri’s LSU Tigers receive from the purple and gold fan base and it should not be any wonder that the Southeastern Conference team was the first Division 1 program to release its 2018 college baseball schedule.
Yes, summer has yet to relinquish its grip on most of the country but the longing for spring never ceases, particularly when the call of Opening Day of the college baseball campaign continues to beckon in the middle of winter. The 2018 slate’s start date is Friday, February 16, which in LSU’s case means the Tigers will host Mainieri’s previous employer, the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish, at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU’s non-conference schedule is highlighted by back-to-back home weekends to open the campaign, with the Texas Longhorns headed to Baton Rouge on February 23-25. That series will mark the first time the Longhorns have traveled to the Tigers’ home ballpark since 1999, when Texas won two of three in the original Alex Box Stadium. While the two teams have not met in the regular season since 1999, the schools faced one another in the 2000 and 2009 College World Series. LSU defeated Texas in the opening round in 2000 before taking two of three over the Longhorns in the finals in 2009 to win the national championship.
Fans doing some preliminary big game hunting should take note of LSU’s SEC schedule. Among others, that slate has the Tigers traveling to Vanderbilt March 23-25 and to Texas A&M on April 6-8. Mainieri’s team will host Mississippi State (March 29-31) and Arkansas (May 4-6).
“We’re very excited to be playing such a challenging schedule, especially with some tremendous games at home for our fans at ‘The Box,’” Mainieri said upon releasing the schedule. “We will have a lot of new faces on this year’s team, and we can’t wait to start working with them. We have the right blend of youth and experience to develop into an outstanding club, and I know our fans will enjoy watching the 2018 Tigers play against some great competition.”
Link to the LSU Tigers’ 2018 schedule
Texas A&M, which joined LSU in reaching the College World Series in 2017, unveiled its schedule on September 19. Among the more interesting teams making the trek to Blue Bell Park include the Long Beach State Dirtbags (March 9-11) and the defending national champion Florida Gators (May 4-6).
“We have laid out a demanding schedule for 2018,” said Aggies head coach Rob Childress. “You run out of ways to talk about how tough the SEC is. And when you add in the challenging non-conference slate we’ll face, I think the 12th Man will get to see some great games at home and on the road. By the time the postseason rolls around, we will certainly be battle tested.”
Link to the Texas A&M Aggies’ 2018 schedule
Wake Forest is the lone school in the Atlantic Coast Conference to announce its 2018 schedule as of September 27. Head coach Tom Walter’s team will face such tough regional competition as UNC Greensboro, Davidson and Coastal Carolina. The Demon Deacons will welcome many of the conference’s top programs to David F. Couch Ballpark, including Florida State (March 9-11), Louisville (March 16-18), Clemson (April 20-22) and Virginia (May 17-19). Wake travels to rivals North Carolina (March 30-April 1) and N.C. State (May 11-13).
“When building a schedule there are two things you try to accomplish: battle test your freshmen on the road prior to conference play, and build an RPI that allows you to host an NCAA Regional and/or receive an at-large bid should you play well,” Walter said. “Our non-conference schedule accomplishes both those goals.”
Link to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons’ 2018 schedule.
Here are links to the seven other schools that have released their 2018 schedules: