Nevada 2017 OOC Schedule
The Wolf Pack surprised me a bit last year. After winning the conference title two years ago and then losing their coach and a lot of seniors, I thought they would struggle. For the most part, they didn’t struggle as they challenged for the regular season title late in the season. That bodes well for this season. How will their OOC schedule challenge them? Read on and see what you think.
2/17/2017-2/19 at Sam Houston State
An excellent team in 2016 at 42-22, the Bearkats (that's not my spelling) were the champs of the Southland Conference so made it to the Lafayette, Louisiana Regional where they were 1-2 getting eliminated by the eventual CWS runner up Arizona 6-5. Oh, so close. As their record hints, they could hit (.291) and the pitching was a tad better than ok at 3.89. Personally, I think they did what they did on the strength of the starting rotation which was 30-5. It's always nice to know that your starting pitching will keep you in games; sometimes deep into games. Thumbs up.
2/20 at Baylor
The Bears are usually in the mix for post season play but didn't play very well in 2016. They were a dismal 24-29 and five games under .500 in the Big 12 also. I'm sure that sat well with coach after so many years of success. Happens to everyone. Then again, 2015 wasn't too good either. Still, a pretty good program. Hitting was ok at .274 but the pitching gave up too many long balls (40) and were always in the stretch (5.08). Not a good mix. They come from a tough conference so I'll give them a thumbs up based on that.
2/24-26 Virginia Tech
The Hokies (always loved that name) were a dismal 19-36 in 2016. Nowhere to go but up for 2017. I especially like the fact that the Wolf Pack is playing a team from so far away and that's about all the good I can say about this matchup. I hope the Pack shows up for the MWC. Thumbs down.
3/07 at Saint Mary's (also 4/05)
The Gaels had a great year, finally, in 2016. I had them pegged as the champions of the WCC in 2016 and they challenged for sure. They won the WCC Tournament which got them into the Raleigh Regional of the NCAA Tournament. Who could ask for more? They were quickly eliminated by eventual champion Coastal Carolina and Navy. I think they were dazzled by the bright lights of the big time if nothing else. How will they do this year? I can't say but they certainly have something to build on. Thumbs up.
3/14 Sacramento State (also 5/02)
The Hornets are always one of my favorite programs. For the past few years they have been excellent with a good mix of hitting, power, and pitching. A lot of the guys who provided those numbers have moved on but even so they were 30-28 last season. The hitting was pretty poor at .258 but the pitching was decent at 4.26. The hitting must improve. You can almost call these games rival games as they are the closest program to Nevada and I think they recruit a lot in that area. Thumbs up as the coach gets the most out of his players.
The Utes were one of the big surprises in college baseball in 2016 as they were the regular season champs of the Pac 12 and advanced to the Oxford, Mississippi Regional where they went 1-2. Coach did it right. The team was an unremarkable 26-19 overall but were 19-11 in conference. That's where you want to win; conference. They had ok pitching at 4.23 and decent hitting at .277. Not remarkable but they came up big when it was needed. Defending champs of the Pac 12 certainly rates a thumbs up.
3/20 at San Francisco (also 3/28)
When I write about Dons baseball I can't help but think back to the 1950's. Those were definitely the glory days for USF; football had Ollie Matson and Gino Marchetti (am I right about him?) and were close to the top team in the country. Basketball had Bill Russell and K.C. Jones who ended up being two of the mainstays of Boston Celtics championship years back in the day. Those days are long gone but are easy to remember. But, that's not baseball. Baseball has been ok but not great for many years and last year was no exception. They were 22-34 and did little to strike fear into the rest of the WCC. They didn't hit (.260) and the pitching was poor (5.28); hence, their record. Thumbs down.
3/30-4/02 at Hawaii
Here's a team that's tough to play in Honolulu. It's just the idea of being in Hawaii. Hey, let's go to the beach after the game. Boy, focus can be lost. I know Hawaii must have lost theirs. They were 23-30 in 2016 and a poor 14-21 at home which means they were .500 on the road. Go figure. They are well supported at about 4,000 or so a game but the fan base is getting a little hot due to all the losing. Name a fan base that's ok with losing. Right. They neither hit well (.265) nor pitched well (4.18) though the pitching was marginally better. Nevada supporters probably have their tickets ready and their bags packed. Thumbs sideways.
4/04 Reno Aces
An exhibition game against a pro team. Good practice and I'll leave it at that.
4/11 at UC Santa Barbara
One of the best teams in the west last season and one of the top teams in the Big West. They made it to the CWS which says enough and the fallout from that is an excellent recruiting class. Winning breeds winning and I suspect they will be good again this year. Thumbs up.
4/18 UC Davis (also 4/25 and 5/16)
A member of the Big West, they didn't fare well last season. They were 17-36 overall and 5-19 in conference. I've always expected them to do better each year but it hasn't happened yet. They didn't hit much (.266) and the same goes for the pitching (5.09). Little hitting and little pitching usually add up to few wins. If those responsible were all freshmen, then they might be better this year. Don't count on it. Thumbs down.
5/06-5/08 at Clemson
The Tigers should be a good challenge. For one thing it's a road series at the end of the year. For another they are a good team (44-20) in the ACC. Lastly, they are tournament tested and hosted a regional in which they went 2-2. I like this matchup as maybe it is a preview for postseason games. Thumbs up.
Not bad. Five NCAA Tournament teams from 2016. Can’t really say if they will be as good this year but that kind of genetics is passed down quite regularly. Yes, this is a challenging schedule. Will the Pack surprise me again. Um, maybe, but how is the question. Gotta go watch some games.
As an aside, it’s only baseball that waits until just before the season before announcing who is on the team and the upcoming schedule. There are still a few teams that haven’t announced their schedules so I can’t write about them. I also have started writing very preliminary articles on possible starting lineups; so far New Mexico and Fresno State look pretty strong. Any surprise there?