Bowling Green, Ky. — A total of 32 home games, and 17 games against teams from the 2007 NCAA Tournament field highlight the 2008 Western Kentucky University baseball schedule that was released on Thursday.
“We are excited about the challenges our 2008 schedule presents for our ballclub,” said Hilltopper head coach Chris Finwood, who begins his third season at the helm of the program. “With 17 games against NCAA Tournament teams, and six games against teams from the Southeastern Conference, the schedule is as tough as ever. Our guys want to play this type of competition, and that’s one of the reason they came to our program. The type of home schedule we have this year should also help us get some great crowds out to Nick Denes Field”
WKU will play seven of its first eight games at home, hosting weekend series with Bowling Green State (Feb. 22-24) and Purdue (Feb. 29-March 2). Road games at Belmont (Feb. 26) and defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Austin Peay (March 5), and a home date with Lipscomb (March 4) ends a short nonconference slate as the Hilltoppers will open Sun Belt Conference play at Louisiana-Monroe March 7-9.
In fact, the contest at APSU will be the start of a nine-game roadtrip that includes the trip to ULM, a midweek series at SEC power Mississippi (March 11-12) and another SBC series at South Alabama (March 14-16).
The rest of the schedule in March includes a home series with Troy (March 21-23) and Youngstown State (March 29-30), as well as midweek home games with Belmont on March 18 and Austin Peay on March 26, and road games at Eastern Kentucky (March 19) and Evansville (March 25).
The Hilltoppers will play 17 of their 32 home games in the months of April and May, with three NCAA Tournament teams from 2007 visiting Nick Denes Field during that span. WKU will host 2007 College World Series participant Louisville at 6 p.m. (CDT) on April 1, then face another instate rival the following evening when it travels to Kentucky. After a home conference series with Florida International (April 4-6), the Toppers visit Vanderbilt — who was the top overall seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament — on April 8. The Commodores make a return trip to Nick Denes Field a week later on April 16 for another 6 p.m. contest.
WKU will also host EKU (April 9), Evansville (April 15) and Kentucky (April 23) in midweek games during the month — all set for a 6 p.m. first pitch. Arkansas State provides the other home conference series of the month (April 18-20). WKU will go on the road for Sun Belt series against defending conference tournament champion New Orleans (April 11-13) and Florida Atlantic (April 25-27) during the month.
The three-game series at FAU begins the final roadtrip of the season for the Hilltoppers, and they play seven straight games away from home. After the trip to Boca Raton, WKU will visit Louisville on April 30, then open the final month of the season with a conference series at UALR May 2-4.
WKU will play the final six games of the season at home as they host perennial league power Louisiana-Lafayette May 9-11, then close out the regular season against conference rival Middle Tennessee May 15-17.
The 2008 Sun Belt Conference Tournament is slated for May 21-24 in Lafayette, La., with the top eight teams in the league battling for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.