UAB To Open Season Feb. 23 At Mississippi State
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UAB baseball program has announced its 2010 schedule, which features 33 home games, seven opponents that played in the 2009 NCAA tournament and two that competed in last year’s College World Series.
The non-conference portion of the schedule is highlighted by a challenging trip to San Diego, Calif., for the San Diego State Invitational (March 11-14). The event features matchups against some of college baseball’s most successful programs in San Diego, Fresno State, San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton.
The only one of the four to not compete in last year’s NCAA tournament was San Diego, but the Toreros enter 2010 ranked as high as No. 14 in the national polls. Fullerton, a College World Series team last season, is one of the all-time great programs with four national championships, while Fresno State won the national
title in 2008.
“We think it’s important to play great teams, and we’ve taken a trip like this every year,” UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. “We’re to the point now where we feel like we can compete at that level. It allows our guys the opportunity and forces them into the challenge of playing the best in the country. I think as long as you continue to improve mentally, you get better in every aspect by doing that.
“And that will certainly be good preparation for the remainder of our schedule, which is always tough. There are no easy wins out there.”
The Blazers’ early-season schedule also includes home weekend series with Ball State (Feb. 26-28), Eastern Illinois (March 5-7) and Western Illinois (March 19-21). Ball State won the Mid-American Conference West Division a season ago, and Eastern Illinois, the defending Ohio Valley Conference regular season champion, is receiving votes in the preseason Collegiate Baseball poll. UAB also has a home series later in the season against Manhattan (April 24-25), the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season champion.
The Ball State and Eastern Illinois series are part of a season-long nine-game homestand that follows UAB’s season-opening midweek game Feb. 23 at SEC foe Mississippi State.
The Blazers get into Conference USA play March 26-28 with a home series against 2009 College World Series participant in Southern Mississippi. The home league slate also features series at Young Memorial Field against Marshall (April 9-11), Houston (April 30-May 2) and Tulane (May 14-16).
UAB will go on the road for conference series at UCF (April 2-3), defending regular-season champion East Carolina (April 16-18), Memphis (May 7-9) and perennial power Rice (May 20-22).
The 24-game league schedule builds toward the 2010 Conference USA Championship, slated for May 26-29 at Houston’s Cougar Field. The tournament has been reformatted to include the top six finishers in a pool play tournament. Previously, the event featured eight teams in a traditional double-elimination bracket.
The Blazers’ 2010 midweek slate is highlighted by home-and-home matchups with in-state rivals Alabama, Troy, Samford and Jacksonville State. For the fifth straight year, UAB will host Alabama at Regions Park, home of the Double-A Birmingham Barons, when the teams meet on March 31. UAB and Jacksonville State will meet four times in midweek games, twice in Birmingham and twice in Jacksonville.