Dan Hartleb's Illini face NCAA Super Regional qualifier Missouri in a wood-bat game at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., on May 15.
Sept. 21, 2006
The University of Illinois announced its 2007 baseball schedule today, highlighted by a wooden-bat game against NCAA Super Regional participant Missouri and a three-game series at NCAA tournament qualifier Texas-Arlington. The Illini will play their first 17 games and 21 of their first 22 on the road before returning to Illinois Field for a seven-game homestand to begin April.
"To open the season, Louisiana-Lafayette is a top-60 RPI team and the Texas-Pan American tournament allows us to play in a tournament format that will hopefully give us experience for postseason play," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. "At the same time, we wanted to see how our players would adjust from game to game just like they would have to in a Big Ten series, so we scheduled a three-game series with Texas-Arlington."
The Illini open their season with a three-game series Feb. 23-25 in Lafayette, La., against the Ragin' Cajuns. Illinois downed the Cajuns 14-12 in the 2006 Baseball Express Collegiate Baseball Classic in San Antonio. Illinois then returns to the Al Ogletree Classic, hosted by Texas-Pan America, March 2-4, featuring the host Broncs, Texas-San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, Purdue and the Illini. Then the Orange and Blue visit Texas-Arlington for a three-game series March 9-11 before heading to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for the squad's annual Spring Trip.
"Bradenton gives us a situation where we play a lot of different Northern teams and the facilities are good, so it allows us to get a lot of work in during an eight- or nine-day period," Hartleb said. "Plus, different players have to live together and get to know each other better, so not only do things start to come together on the field, but there are positive things that happen off the field."
The Illini return home for one final pre-conference tune-up with Indiana State on March 27 before opening Big Ten play at Purdue March 30-April 1. The Orange and Blue then return to Illinois Field for a seven-game homestand, the longest of the season. Illinois hosts Western Michigan in the teams' annual two-game series, then faces Ohio State in a four-game set before wrapping up the homestand with an April 10th game against Bradley.
"The Big Ten continues to get better and better," Hartleb said. "There won't be any weekend that'll be a pushover. You have to take care of business at home and handle the things that go along with being on the road if you want to compete at the top of the Big Ten. It's that way year in and year out, and I think we're very capable of doing that."
Following a nine-game road swing at Northwestern, Illinois State and Iowa, the Illini host Eastern Illinois on April 24 and Minnesota April 27-29. Illinois then heads to Southern Illinois and Michigan before ending the conference season with two home sets against Indiana and Michigan State. Sandwiched between those final two series is the annual wood-bat game with Missouri, this year to be played at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., home to the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League.
"In Southern Illinois and Missouri, we play two good teams that have done very well over the past four or five years RPI-wise," Hartleb said. "They're teams that you need to play very well against to get wins."