The Shawnee State baseball program has released its upcoming schedule for the 2016 season, head coach Chris Moore announced Tuesday.
Overall, the Bears will play 53 contests over the course of the season, with 21 of the aforementioned 53 bouts coming against opponents that are either ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The slate commences with a trip to the Peach State as the Bears will open their season with a 2 p.m. doubleheader against Middle Georgia State on Friday, Feb. 5, with a single game to follow against the Knights at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Shawnee State will follow the trio of games against Middle Georgia State with a quartet of contests as the Bears will play Judson (Ill.) and Taylor (Ind.) on both Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13 in neutral site contests in Emerson, Georgia.
After the trip to Georgia, Shawnee State will continue with weekend bouts as the Bears will travel to Union (Ky.) and Menlo (Calif.) to participate in a total of four doubleheaders over the following pair of weekends – with Menlo being the first of six ranked opponents that Shawnee State will play on the year.
The Bears will open the month of March at Branch Rickey Park as the team will open the 2016 home slate by hosting the Al Oliver Classic, named after the Portsmouth native who played for seven different Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises over parts of three decades in the major leagues.
In the classic, Shawnee State will host Concordia (Mich.) in a 7 p.m. bout on Friday, March 4 before following up with another contest against Fisher (Mass.) on the following day at the same time.
The host Bears will cap off the classic with two more contests on Sunday, March 6 against Fisher – 1 p.m. – as well as Indiana Tech, with the latter contest scheduled for a 4 p.m. start time.
After traveling to St. Louis, Mo. to play Missouri Baptist and Morthland (Ill.) during a two-day stretch – Tuesday, March 8 and Wednesday, March 9, Shawnee State will start Mid-South Conference play with road trips to Cumberland (Tenn.) on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12 and Cumberlands (Ky.) on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19.
Following the road trip, the Bears will get its longest stretch of home tilts during the 2016 slate, as Shawnee State will play a dozen games in a row at Branch Rickey Park over a seven-day stretch from Wednesday, March 23 to Tuesday, April 5.
During the middle of the home stand, the March 30 doubleheader against Mount Vernon Nazarene will start a stretch where the Bears will take on the NAIA’s best, as Shawnee State will play 15 games in a row against teams that were ranked or are receiving votes in the NAIA Preseason Top 25 Poll, including conference bouts against No. 7-ranked Lindsey Wilson, No. 19-ranked Campbellsville, and St. Catharine, who received votes in the poll.
After playing Bluefield (Va.) in a road doubleheader on Tuesday, April 19, the Bears will return to Branch Rickey Park for the final trio of home and Mid-South contests as Shawnee State will host Georgetown (Ky.) on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23.
The opening round of the Mid-South Conference Tournament will take place at the home site of the higher seeded team in a best-of-three series on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30. The remaining quartet of teams following the aforementioned first round will then make the trek to Bowling Green, Ky. to play at Bowling Green Ballpark on Thursday, May 5 and Saturday, May 7.