The baseball program at Shawnee State University will play a 56-game schedule in the spring of 2020, including 27 home games at the storied Branch Rickey Park grounds, in a schedule release that was made public by head coach Phil Butler on Wednesday.
Butler, who will be entering his second season as the head coach of the Shawnee State baseball program, will lead his team into battle beginning on Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9 as the Bears will take on Faulkner (Ala.) in Montgomery. A visit to Lake James, N.C. for an additional doubleheader against West Virginia Tech as part of the Big League Camp on Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16, along with a road trip to Milligan College on Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23, rounds out the early portion of SSU’s schedule.
During the following weekend, Shawnee State follows up its 10 away/neutral contests with 12 consecutive home bouts from Feb. 29 to March 10 as the Bears play host to Concordia (Mich.) in a pair of doubleheaders on Saturday, Feb. 29 and Sunday, March 1 and follow those events up by hosting Ohio Christian on Tuesday, March 2 and Cincinnati-Clermont in a doubleheader on Wednesday, March 3 en route to playing seven games on four consecutive days over the course of the week. Shawnee State concludes its 12-game homestand with its three opening Mid-South Conference games against Cumberlands (Ky.) on Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 and a doubleheader against Bluefield (Va.) on Tuesday, March 10.
Over the following two weeks, the Bears will split their time over different contests, as Shawnee State will travel to Lindsey Wilson for a three-game conference set on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14 before playing host to Ohio-Chillicothe in a doubleheader on Tuesday, March 17. A short road trip to Asbury (Ky.) on Wednesday, March 18 is followed by a three-game set against Campbellsville back at Branch Rickey Park on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21.
Following the home bout against the Tigers, SSU embarks on an extended trip away from BRP as the Bears play each of their next 11 contests on the road, which starts with two straight days of action against Ohio-Lancaster on Tuesday, Oct. 24 and Ohio-Chillicothe on Wednesday, Oct. 25 — with the latter affair being played at VA Memorial Stadium. A nonconference doubleheader against Bluefield (Va.) on Wednesday, April 1 is sandwiched by three-game conference sets against the University of the Cumberlands (Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28) and Pikeville (Friday, April 3, Saturday, April 4) to cap off the 10-day road trip.
While the Bears play 11 games on the road during that aforementioned 10-day stretch, Shawnee State gets the payoff over the final two weeks of the regular season as the Bears will play 10 of their last 12 regular season games at home, beginning with a doubleheader against Point Park (Pa.) on Tuesday, April 7. SSU also plays host to Georgetown on Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 in a three-game set, hosts Ohio University-Lancaster in a single home game on Tuesday, April 14, and will play MSC newcomer Thomas More on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18 at Branch Rickey Park. The Bears cap off their season with a doubleheader at Ohio Christian on Monday, April 20 and a single contest against Asbury (Ky.) at Branch Rickey Park on Wednesday, April 22.
Butler, who is a member of the SSU Athletic Hall of Fame, was a 2017 inductee as a result of leading Shawnee State to the American Midwest Conference Championship in 2010 and the Mid-South Conference Championship in 2011. The Spring, Texas native — a two-time NAIA All-American after transferring to Shawnee State from Blinn Community College in Texas — was a First-Team NAIA All-American as a senior after hitting .356, driving in 74 runs, and slugging .611 overall with 10 home runs and 21 doubles overall. Butler also added in a .339 average as a junior and collected 19 doubles 52 RBI after homering 11 times in 2010 en route to Honorable Mention NAIA All-American honors.
In his first season at Shawnee State in 2019, Butler led the Bears to a respectable 17-24 record while increasing Shawnee State’s win total by three from the 2018 season. The Bears, after going 1-16 in MSC action in 2018, improved vastly in conference play by going 6-12 overall in Butler’s first season as a head coach. Butler has been a part of the SSU baseball program as a coach or student assistant since the 2012 season.
More information will be released on the Shawnee State baseball program as it becomes official.