FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head baseball coach Dave Van Horn announced the release of the 2008 Razorbacks’ baseball schedule on Thursday.
The 2008 season marks the first under the NCAA’s new condensed schedule, which pushes the season start date back to the third week in February.
“With the NCAA moving the start of the 2008 season back by two to three weeks it gives us less days to get our 56 games in,” Van Horn said. “We are going to play a lot of games early. We are actually going to play 25 games in those first five and a half weeks of the season.”
The 56-game schedule features 32 home games, which is the most regular-season home games since 32 in 2004. The Hogs will also play high-profile non-conference games at Texas A&M and two-game mid-week series at Arizona State and Nebraska.
“When I look at the 2008 schedule I sometimes shake my head and ask ‘What have I done?’ because this is the toughest schedule that maybe Arkansas has ever had,” Van Horn said. “You throw in our 30 SEC games and then add mid-week games at Nebraska and at Arizona State we are going to find out how good we are.”
The 2008 slate has 20 games with nine different teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, including Arizona State and Mississippi State who made trips to Omaha for the College World Series.
The season opens on Friday, Feb. 23, at Baum Stadium with a three-game series against Wright State. After mid-week games at home against Southeast Missouri State on Feb. 26 and Kansas on Feb. 27, the Hogs travel to College Station, Texas, for the Aggie Baseball Classic. UA will face off with Louisiana Tech on Feb. 29 before a showdown with host Texas A&M and former hitting coach Matt Deggs on March 1. The tournament concludes against Ohio State on March 2.
A five-game homestand opens on March 4 with a two-game set vs. South Dakota State. Siena then comes in on March 7-9 for a three-game series.
A mid-week trip to Tempe, Ariz., to face Arizona State follows on March 11-12. The two schools have met twice before, both in NCAA Regional play. The first meeting was a 1-0 Arkansas win in the 1989 NCAA Regional in Waterbury, Conn. The last game was in the 1998 NCAA Midwest Regional in Wichita, Kan., where the Sun Devils captured an 8-4 win.
The Hogs return home that weekend to open Southeastern Conference action with Georgia on March 14-16. It marks the first time since 1998 that Arkansas will open SEC play at home. The Razorbacks then embark on another tough mid-week series at Nebraska on March 18-19 where Van Horn will play his former team for the first time since coming to Arkansas in 2003.
Two days later, UA ventures to Baton Rouge, La., for its final trip to Alex Box Stadium to play the always tough LSU Tigers. A two-game mid-week series with Centenary on March 25-26 at Baum Stadium is squeezed between another SEC road trip to Vanderbilt on March 28-30 and a single game at Missouri State on April 1.
Arkansas then returns home for the start of a five-game homestand on April 2 with Mississippi Valley State, followed by a weekend SEC series with Auburn on April 4-6 and the first Oral Roberts game of the season on April 8.
After a trip to Florida on April 11-13 and Oral Roberts on April 15, UA hosts Tennessee for a three-game series at Baum Stadium on April 18-20 and a two-game set with Northern Colorado on April 22-23.
A trip to Oxford, Miss., awaits the Razorbacks on April 25-27 before the start of a season-long seven-game homestand at Baum Stadium. The homestand begins with a mid-week game with Missouri State on April 30 and back-to-back SEC home series against Alabama (May 2-4) and South Carolina (May 9-11).
The regular season concludes on the road for the first time since 2001 when the Hogs travel to Starkville, Miss., for a three-game series with the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The SEC Tournament will be held for the 11th straight year at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., on May 21-25. NCAA postseason play then begins with regional competition on May 30-June 2. NCAA Super Regionals will begin on June 5 and run through June 8.
The College World Series will take place on June 14-25 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb. The CWS will have a slightly different format in 2008 with the first day of the tournament moving from Friday to Saturday, June 14. The College World Series finals will then start on Monday, June 23 and conclude on Tuesday, June 24 or Wednesday, June 25.