Baseball Releases 2006 ScheduleNovember 8, 2005 · MT Media Relations
The Blue Raiders open the season with three games against IP-Fort Wayne February 18-19, including a doubleheader to begin the year on the 18th. Middle Tennessee plays three of its five non-conference weekend series on the road, with trips scheduled for Jacksonville State (Feb. 24-26), Southern Illinois (March 10-12) and Birmingham Southern (March 17-19). BSU and the Blue Raiders met in the 2004 NCAA Regional in Athens, Ga., with the Panthers prevailing, 5-0.
"We've been trying to get together [with Birmingham Southern] for several years and we finally worked something out," Peterson said. "They have a highly competitive program, won a national championship their last year in NAIA and made it to the regional the first year they were eligible in the NCAA."
The Blue Raiders other non-conference weekend features 2003 College World Series participant Missouri State (March 3-5), formerly Southwest Missouri State. The two clubs have met seven of the last eight seasons.
The club opens Sun Belt action March 24-26 at home against Arkansas-Little Rock, and includes home series versus Western Kentucky, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Blue Raiders hit the road for SBC series at New Orleans, South Alabama, Florida International and Troy.
The final series of the season, at Troy, will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to allow an extra day of rest before the Sun Belt Championships begin the following Wednesday, May 24, in Bowling Green, Ky.
[Troy] was a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament last year after winning the Atlantic Sun Conference," Peterson said. "A lot of people felt they should have been in. They're going to be a great addition to the Sun Belt in baseball."
The Blue Raiders also play home-and-home series against familiar in-state foes Austin Peay, Belmont, Lipscomb, Tennessee Tech and Vanderbilt, as well as four games against Memphis and one home contest versus UT Martin. Samford also returns to the schedule after a one-year absence, with Middle Tennessee returning the trip to Birmingham next season.
Expectations are always high surrounding the Middle Tennessee baseball program, with Peterson beginning his 19th season at the helm. He has built the Blue Raiders into a perennial conference championship contender, and as he likes to say, "We don't rebuild at Middle Tennessee, we reload."
After last season's strong finish and the return of 19 letterwinners, including six starters and seven pitchers, the expectations are even higher than usual. The 2005 squad finished 32-23 overall, 13-10 in the Sun Belt, but the club's 12-4 mark in May and 17-5 finish down the stretch gives hope to every Blue Raider fan heading into the 2006 campaign.
The Blue Raiders have plenty of experience to make a run at the school's third Sun Belt title in six years and 14th NCAA Tournament appearance, and it all starts just 102 days from today at Reese Smith Field.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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