College baseball fans can start preparing their calendars for 2018. Another five teams have released their schedules over the past few days, a list that includes such perennial NCAA Tournament contenders as Missouri State, Oklahoma State, Houston, Virginia Tech and Liberty.
The Missouri State Bears, led by head coach Keith Guttin, are coming off a 43-20 record, during which the team won its second NCAA Regional title in three seasons. Eighteen letterwinners are back, including returning All-Americans Jeremy Eierman and Jake Fromson. The Bears are in the midst of their best three-year period in program annals, notching 130 victories since the start of the 2015 campaign.
The Bears’ 2018 schedule includes several notable contests, yet none is bigger than a three-game series against Oregon State. The Beavers, who return most of its roster from last year’s team that advanced to the College World Series as the number one seed, will make the trek to Hammons Field in Springfield on April 13-15. Midweek matchups against regional foes Southeast Missouri State (March 20) and Murray State (March 21) and visits from Missouri (April 10) and Kansas (May 2) also highlight the team’s non-conference slate.
Check out Missouri State’s 2018 schedule by clicking here: http://missouristatebears.com/schedule.aspx?path=baseball
Missouri State will also host Oklahoma State (March 7), which has put together a string of solid seasons, including five consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament under head coach Josh Holliday. In addition to facing the Bears, the Cowboys have three mid-week games against regional rival Oral Roberts, which reached post-season play in 2017. OSU also hosts Marist, another NCAA Tournament team, and will travel to Tempe to face Arizona State on March 2-4.
“I like the challenges this schedule presents us,” Holiday said. “We’re going on the road early and playing some quality opponents and, as always, our mid-week opponents give us as good a mid-week schedule as anyone in the country with the outstanding play in the Midwest. Every Tuesday and Wednesday we’re playing NCAA Regional-type opponents. And once again, the Big 12 should be just as good as it has, if not better, with a number of teams returning deep, experienced rosters.”
Check out Oklahoma State’s 2018 schedule by clicking here:
The Houston Cougars are coming off a 2017 campaign in which the program won both a regular-season and tournament title for the first time since 2000. Head coach Todd Whitting’s team recorded its third 40-plus win season under his direction by going 42-21 and was the number one seed in the Houston Regional for the second time in three years.
Whitting welcomes 16 newcomers, including 10 true freshmen, who will look to mesh with First Team All-American and reigning American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Trey Cumbie, who finished 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA in 2017. All-conference recipients Joe Davis and Mitch Ullom are also back. Davis hit at a .299 clip with eight home runs while Ullom went 6-3 with a 3.57 ERA.
Houston’s road to another AAC title will be more difficult this spring with the addition of Wichita State to the conference. The Shockers will be a trendy pick to make a serious run on the national scene and offer a challenge that Whitting is excited to meet.
“With the addition of Wichita State to the American Athletic Conference, I once again expect our league to be one of the most competitive college baseball leagues in the nation,” Whitting said. “We continue to rank among the top four leagues, based on RPI, in the country year in and year out and have earned numerous bids to the NCAA Tournament. With that, every week in conference play will be a competitive series, and we are looking forward to defending our title this year.”
Check out Houston’s 2018 schedule by clicking here:
A pair of teams from the Commonwealth of Virginia also shared their schedules. The Virginia Tech Hokies, under the direction of first-year head coach John Szefc, will begin their season by traveling the first two weekends and meeting a variety of opponents, among them South Alabama and Ball State for the first time in program annals.
The Hokies head to Myrtle Beach and Coastal Carolina University, beginning Friday, February 16, to face the Chanticleers, South Alabama, Oklahoma and Kansas State over the course of the four-day weekend. The following weekend, Tech will be in Louisiana for the New Orleans Tournament, where the team will face Iowa, the host Privateers, and Ball State.
Check out Virginia Tech’s 2018 schedule by clicking here:
For the first time since 2005, Liberty will open its slate at home. The Flames will host regional rival Virginia Commonwealth, a 35-win team in 2017, for a three-game series on February 16-18 at Liberty Baseball Stadium. The following weekend head coach Scott Jackson’s team will host Binghamton, which won the 2017 American East regular season.
Liberty’s non-conference schedule includes a three-game series at 2017 NCAA Regional teams North Carolina and St. John’s. Another NCAA Tournament qualifier, Canisius, will play a three-game series at Liberty. The Flames also play home-and-home series against Wake Forest, Duke and Virginia Tech.
Check out Liberty’s 2018 schedule by clicking here: