SFA Releases 2008 Baseball Schedule
Nov. 27, 2007
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin head coach Donnie Watson announced the slate for the upcoming 2008 season on Tuesday, looking to build on a 2007 season that turned out to be a historical one for the SFA baseball team.
The schedule includes five conference champions and four teams that made their way to the NCAA Tournament in 2007. Overall, SFA will play 56 games in 2008, including 29 home contests at Jaycees Field in Nacogdoches. The `Jacks will play 26 non-conference games against opponents from conferences such as the Big XII, Big 10, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Northeast Conference.
"Our goal from day one with this program was to play a legitimate Division I schedule," Watson said. "The new time frame for schedules is going to challenge each program across the country. The balance between academics and athletics is going to be tough for the kids to maintain with games being played so often, but I think that is why kids come to play at this level of athletics."
This year the NCAA has pushed back the start date for the baseball season by two weeks and after opening up 2007 on Feb 3, the 'Jacks will kick off the 2008 season on Feb. 22 in Edinburg, Texas. The three-day UTPA Tournament will pit SFA against conference foes Texas State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as well as the host UT-Pan American Broncs.
SFA will return to Nacogdoches for back-to-back games against Houston Baptist - who finished third in the NAIA College World Series in 2007 - on Feb. 26 and 27 before hitting the road again to take part in the QTI Baylor Classic from Feb. 29 to March 2.
The 'Jacks will be joined in Waco by Baylor, Illinois and Illinois-Chicago to form a four-team field that all posted records above .500 last year. The Bears are one of only 15 teams in the nation to have played in a NCAA Regional in nine of the last 10 seasons and made it all the way to the Big XII Championship game a year ago. The Fighting Illini will be facing off the with the 'Jacks for the second time in two seasons, and the UIC Flames will present a formidable challenge after winning both the regular season and tournament titles in the Horizon League last year.
After returning from Waco, SFA will have eight of its next nine games at home beginning with Dallas Baptist on March 4 and followed by a four-game set with Sacred Heart from the Northeast Conference on March 6-9. SFA will then take on Houston at Cougar Field before opening up Southland Conference play with Southeastern Louisiana at home March 14-16.
Dallas Baptist will serve as the opponent again on March 18 in Dallas before a three-game set at Lamar and a pair of home games against Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks are coming off of the program's most successful season in five years in helping the Sun Belt Conference to a national ranking of No. 7 among conference RPI's.
Three-game series' with Northwestern State and Central Arkansas are sandwiched around a non-conference two-game series with Texas A&M - the defending Big XII champions - on April 1-2.
"When you are able to play the quality of teams we are playing before conference and then play the caliber of non-conference teams that we are while in conference play, that type of challenge can only better your team," Watson said.
UNLV will come through Nacogdoches on a Texas swing April 8-9 after a season that saw the Rebels pick up wins over Cal State Fullerton, California, Arizona, BYU and Texas A&M in 2007.
The rest of April will see the `Jacks at home for a series with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before hosting Houston on April 15. SFA then has its longest stretch away from Jaycees Field as its next seven games will all be on the road including series' at UT-San Antonio and Nicholls State, and a third matchup with Dallas Baptist.
Following that stint will be a double header with UT-Pan American in Nacogdoches on April 29 and consecutive three-game get-togethers with Texas State and UT-Arlington, both in Nacogdoches.
After a May 14 contest at Baylor, SFA will close out the regular season portion of the schedule with a three-game series in Huntsville against the defending SLC Tournament champion Sam Houston State Bearkats. Those games will hopefully serve as an ideal tuneup for the 2008 SLC Tournament, which is set to be held at Don Sanders Baseball Stadium in Huntsville, May 22-25.
"This year and this team is going to be fun to watch and I think we will get dramatically better as the year goes on," Watson said. "Every fan in East Texas should make their way out there this season to see some good baseball. It's the best ticket in town."
The 'Jacks are coming off of its most successful season in program history after posting a 31-28 record and qualifying for the SLC Tournament for the first time in only its second season back from hiatus. SFA justified that berth with a second-round win over McNeese State and with having four players selected in the MLB Draft in early June - the second most players selected by any SLC school.