The 2014 schedule features 16 home games to open the year, nonconference series' with Hofstra, Holy Cross, and Arizona, as well as home conference series' with Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Ole Miss.
Do you miss baseball season yet? I do. Sure, I do love fall, with its pumpkin flavored everything and less-buttsweat-inducing weather, but I do still miss spring and summer and MSU baseball. Even though we still have the second half of a football season, Christmas, a basketball season, and the ushering in of a new year before us before we get baseball again, we did get one step closer to the next season yesterday.
Mississippi State officially released its full 2014 baseball schedule yesterday, via HailState.com. The schedule, which we got some bits of info on in mid August, features another strong opening slate of home games -- 16 in a row, in fact -- and the addition of an RPI-bolstering nonconference series out west. All of that is in addition to another rigorous conference schedule, but one that should be SLIGHTLY easier than 2013 was. Here are a few highlights from the schedule:
MSU's 16 game opening home-stand features games against Holy Cross, Hofstra, as well as the Diamond Classic, which welcomes in Michigan State (33-17 in 2013) and Eastern Michigan (22-27 in 2013).
I love, LOVE what this staff is doing with the addition of the future games against UCLA, Oregon, and USC, as well as the 2014 trip to Tuscon to take on Arizona and UC Santa Barbara. There may be no better test of a team's talent than a trip out west to play in the greatest baseball region in the country, and I think this early season trip will provide a bit of a measuring stick for MSU as to where they are for the 2014 season. Last year the Wildcats ended their season at a disappointing 34-21, but the year before that they ended South Carolina's run in Omaha and won a national championship.
Last year, MSU seemed to get every tough team on the eastern side of the conference in cross-divisional play. That changes a good bit this year, as the Bulldogs will swap Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky for Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee, who combined to average a .379 winning percentage last year. Of course those teams could have greatly improved since last year, but it certainly SEEMS to bode well -- or at least better -- for MSU's chances to improve upon its SEC record in 2014.
Ole Miss comes to town in mid April for Super Bulldog Weekend next season, and let me just say for the 4,12335th time how much I love that move. It's already a bit weekend for baseball and fans to come back to campus; the rivalry angle just adds to that fact more. Looking forward to that weekend for sure.
Overall, this schedule seems to shape up well for Mississippi State to repeat success next spring. You never want to get too ahead of yourselves as far as what you assume can happen by looking at a schedule five months out, but still, it's hard not to look at this schedule and see another strong year, and possibly contention to host another regional and/or super regional.
I apologize. I just completely jinxed any chance of that happening.