EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE baseball has revealed its 2018 schedule which features three 2017 NCAA tournament participants and 20 home games at Simmons Baseball Complex.
"We are playing a very tough schedule with high-quality opponents," SIUE second-year Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "It is going to be a challenge for our guys, but also very exciting to play opponents of this caliber."
The Cougars will challenge themselves early, with 10 consecutive road contests over the first three weeks of the season.
SIUE will open the season with a three-game series at Southeastern Louisiana (Feb. 16-18). The Lions won 37 games last season and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals out of the Southland Conference. The Cougars then face a road series at Louisiana Tech (Feb. 23-25) which won 36 games in 2017. SIUE will open March with a three-game series at Oral Roberts (Mar. 2-4). The Golden Eagles earned the Summit League's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals and finished with 43 wins overall.
The Cougars' season-opening trip concludes with a single game at perennial power Wichita State (Mar. 6).
"We're going to find out real quick if we are ready to play," Lyons said. "Two of our first three opponents played in the NCAA Postseason last year and the other won 36 games. Early on, we'll be looking to find the right combination of players in the lineup, starting rotation, and bullpen. This tough non-conference schedule should prepare us for the start of Ohio Valley Conference play."
SIUE opens the home season with a single game against Saint Louis (Mar. 7) of the Atlantic 10.
Aside from the Wichita State matchup, midweek road games for the Cougars include Saint Louis (Mar. 13), Evansville (Mar. 14), Missouri (Apr. 4), Western Illinois (Apr. 11), Illinois State (Apr. 17) and Bradley (May 9).
The Cougars also will have home nonconference dates with SIU Carbondale (Mar. 20), Evansville (Mar. 27), Western Illinois (Apr. 25) and Bradley (May 15).
"It is a challenge knowing that every midweek contest is going to be against a quality opponent," Lyons added.
SIUE will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, for a series at former OVC member Samford during their bye weekend from conference play (Apr. 27-28).
The OVC schedule begins on the road for the Cougars at Murray State (Mar. 9-11). SIUE also will play road series at OVC opponents Southeast Missouri (March 23-25), Eastern Kentucky (April 6-8), UT Martin (Apr. 20-22) and Eastern Illinois (May 11-13).
During the conference season, the Cougars will play host to Tennessee Tech (Mar. 16-18), Belmont (Mar. 29-31), Morehead State (Apr. 13-16), Austin Peay (May 4-6) and Jacksonville State (May 17-19).
"We love playing at home," Lyons said. "It's a great environment. We need to take advantage of every home game and try to win some tough series on the road."
The OVC Tournament will be return to Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama, May 23-26.
"The league was very competitive last year," Lyons said of the OVC. "We need to be consistently better to get where we want to be."