Jan. 13, 2012
2012 Team Schedules
Opening Day Just Five Weeks
By Phil Stanton
many around the country deal with snow and cold temperatures,
here is a thought to warm your hearts: College Baseball Opening
Day is just five weeks away.
Often, there’s the perception that powerhouses
load up on cupcakes to start the season, but that’s not true in
all cases. There are many great match-ups for the opening
weekend of the 2012 campaign, including a pair involving SEC
teams facing traditional powers from the West Coast.
National runner-up Florida will host Cal State
Fullerton in a monster three-game set in Gainesville, arranged
through CBI’s Open Dates feature. The Gators return a ton of
talent, both at the plate and on the mound. Catcher Mike Zunino
returns to lead the offense along with Preston Tucker (pictured
above), while Brian Johnson and Austin Maddox will handle
two-way duties. Hudson Randall and Karsten Whitson anchor a
talented pitching corps for Florida.
“We have put together a challenging schedule in
2012 and starting off the season against a traditionally strong
program such as Cal State Fullerton will be exciting for our
team and our fans,” Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.
The Titans posted another 40-win season and
hosted a Regional a year ago, but watched Stanford take the
title and advance to the Super Regionals. Fullerton has a new
head man as longtime assistant Rick Vanderhook returns to take
over as head coach. The Titans return six position starters but
must replace their entire starting rotation. Michael Lorenzen,
Carlos Lopez and Richy Pedroza all batted over .330 a season ago
and will spark the Fullerton offense.
“We look forward to the opportunity to open the
season versus one of the top programs in college baseball,”
Vanderhook said. “Coach O’Sullivan and his staff have put
together a fabulous team with seven preseason All-Americans and
a No. 1 ranking. I just hope we can compete.”
The SEC and Pac-12 go head-to-head as Vanderbilt
visits Stanford for a three-game set. The Cardinal visited
Nashville a season ago, dropping a pair of one-run decisions
before salvaging the finale. Stanford is led on the mound by
Mark Appel, a right-hander who could be the top player taken in
the 2012 MLB Draft. Infielder Kenny Diekroeger, two-way player
Stephen Piscotty, outfielder Jake Stewart and lefty Brett
Mooneyham could also hear their names called early in June’s
The Commodores made their first trip to the
College World Series in 2011 but lost some key contributors.
Conrad Gregor, Tony Kemp, Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski
will lead the offense, while many eyes will be on freshman
right-hander Tyler Beede, the only first-round pick from the
2011 MLB Draft who did not sign.
While numerous nationally-ranked teams chose to
remain at home to start the season, Georgia Tech hits the road
for the Coca-Cola Classic in Rock Hill, S.C. The Yellow Jackets
will face host Winthrop twice as well as a pair against Kent
State, the favorite in the Mid-American Conference.
“We are all looking forward to getting started in
Rock Hill next month,” Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin
said. “We have a great relationship with Winthrop and try to
play them every year in one of their tournaments. Getting the
opportunity to face off against Georgia Tech twice in that
opening weekend certainly makes it a very challenging three
days. It will most likely be our first time outside when we take
the field on February 17th so our guys are going to need to be
On the other side of the state, Coastal Carolina
has assembled an interesting collection for its Caravelle Resort
Tournament in Myrtle Beach and Conway. The host Chanticleers
welcome College World Series participant Virginia of the ACC
along with James Madison, one of the favorites in the CAA, and
Boston College of the ACC.
“What a great tournament field and will be very
challenging,” JMU head coach Spanky McFarland said. “It appears
all the programs involved will have to work in some new kids to
replace great players from last year. Should be a great weekend
of good baseball.”
St. John’s and Louisville, two of the top teams
in the Big East, face the same three opponents in the fourth and
final Big East-Big Ten Challenge on the Gulf Coast of Florida:
Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota.
Texas State of the Southland Conference will host
the Bobcat Invitational, bringing in Wichita State of the
Missouri Valley Conference, Santa Clara of the West Coast
Conference and Louisiana-Lafayette of the Sun Belt Conference.
Several series could have valuable RPI
implications come Selection Monday. TCU will have an interesting
opening weekend as it welcomes Ole Miss for a three-game series.
Oklahoma heads to the West Coast for a three-game set at
Pepperdine. FIU from the Sun Belt heads west to play a
three-game series at Rice. Oregon travels to Hawaii for a
four-game set. Perennial Summit League champion Oral Roberts
heads to Waco to face Baylor for three. Jacksonville of the
Atlantic Sun goes cross-country to play three at USC.
Peeking ahead to the second weekend, we look
forward to Texas at Stanford, Oregon at Vanderbilt, TCU at Cal
State Fullerton, Dallas Baptist at Rice, Auburn at Arizona and
Baylor at UCLA. Pretty hot for February.
(photo by Jimmy Jones)