Sept. 21, 2017
RUSTON, La. - Following a 36-20 season in his first year at Louisiana Tech, head baseball coach Lane Burroughs announced the squad's 2018 schedule on Thursday.
This season's slate is highlighted by 27 home games at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park along with contests against Power 5 programs in LSU, Texas A&M, California and Baylor. The Bulldogs will also host home-and-home events with in-state foes McNeese State, Louisiana-Monroe, Grambling, Northwestern State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
The 56-game schedule will see Tech take the field in eight different states against five opponents that reached the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
"Scheduling is such a tricky business, Burroughs said. "We always want to do our due diligence in regards to RPI and quality opponents. We are fortunate from a geographical standpoint that we have so many quality programs that we can play in midweek contests."
Tech kicks off the 2018 campaign with a 1,700-mile trip to Malibu, California, for a four-game set against Pepperdine on Feb. 16-18. The visit to the west coast will be the first since the 2013 season when Tech played against conference foes, San Jose State and Sacramento State. The Bulldogs have never faced the Waves, who finished with a 29-24 record last season.
"I am a firm believer that baseball will take you places that otherwise you may never visit," Burroughs added. "I think it is important to visit different parts of the country so that these young men can experience different cultures and landscapes. To me it's all part of the college education process. Pepperdine will be a great opponent to open the season and we will be tested right out of the gate. They have a ton of history and tradition and one of the most beautiful backdrops in all of college baseball. Our guys are looking forward to the trip."
On the heels of their season-opening road trip, the Dogs return to Ruston for their home-opener at the Love Shack against McNeese on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. Tech will then enjoy four straight contests from the friendly confines of Pat Patterson Park before heading to Frisco, Texas, to take part in the Frisco Baseball Classic.
The Dogs will be matched up against Power 5 opponents in Baylor, Cal-Berkley and Texas A&M on March 2-4 from Dr. Pepper Ballpark, the home of the Frisco Roughriders. The Bears and Aggies were both NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, while Cal-Berkley finished sixth in the competitive Pac-12.
"With Frisco, you immediately think regional atmosphere, Burroughs said. " Our goal is to obviously get to the NCAA tournament and I think it's imperative that once you get there, nothing arises that you haven't already seen. The Frisco Classic will definitely prepare this team for any regional in the country. We are so very fortunate that the good folks in Frisco think enough of our program to extend an invitation. We have a ton of Bulldogs in that area and we are looking forward to seeing them out in full force."
Tech will then benefit from playing seven of its next nine games at home, hosting Grambling and Houston Baptist before opening the Conference USA schedule against last year's league tournament champion, Rice. The Bulldogs will welcome the Owls to Ruston for a three-game set on March 16-18. Last season, Tech took two of three from Rice, who clinched C-USA's automatic bid to the NCAA postseason in dramatic fashion.
In addition to Rice, the Bulldogs will also host C-USA opponents, FIU (Mar. 29-31), Charlotte (Apr. 13-15), Middle Tennessee (May 4-6), and Old Dominion (May 17-19).
Tech will hit the road for C-USA weekend series against UAB (March 23-25), UTSA (Apr. 6-8), Marshall (Apr. 20-22), WKU (Apr. 27-29), and C-USA Regular Season Champion Southern Miss (May 11-13).
As a league, Conference USA finished the 2017 season ranked No. 6 in the NCAA RPI as a league. The conference has been ranked among the top five baseball conferences in eight of the last 12 seasons.
"Conference USA just continues to get better and better," Burroughs concluded. "There are so many gifted players and coaches in our league and it is an absolute battle every weekend. We definitely play in one of the best baseball leagues in the country and it's exciting to continue to see the growth of our league."
Preparation for the 2018 season will begin this month with the first official team practice slated for Sep. 29.