JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The 2018 Carson-Newman baseball schedule features a late eight-game homestand in an otherwise balanced 48-game schedule as coach Tom Griffin unveiled the slate Saturday afternoon.
On the docket will be 25 home games and 23 contests on the road as C-N will travel 3,414 miles during the 2018 campaign.
"We have had some years that we have started out well on the weekend series and the year has been atrocious," Griffin stated. "I don't think it really matters. We haven't spent a lot of time talking about who we are playing. I know this is so cliché but we are just trying to prepare each day and not look ahead on the schedule. We know that we need to be prepared on Jan. 10 when we start our first training session."
The opening month features an even split of eight games on the road and eight at home. To open the campaign, Griffin's group travels to Gaffney, S.C. to face Limestone in a three-game series with an outing against Pfeiffer on Saturday. It is the third time in the last four years that Opening Day will be against the Saints with Limestone winning in 2015 and 2016.
On Feb. 9, the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex opens for business against Virginia-Wise with the first of a three-game series. It's the first in a string of seven out of eight games played at home prior to conference play.
In 2018, the Eagles have three separate four-game road trips to open the year, from March 20-24 and April 17-21.
"I think it's a good start," Griffin said. "You are looking for places where the environment is going to be good. We feel like it will be okay in Gaffney, S.C. because you want to get these games in. The worst thing that you can do is get these games in and lose them. You want to play as much as possible before you get into conference play. We do have some games at home. We have a lot of competition in that outfield. We have a lot of guys that can throw. We have to see who can do what."
South Atlantic Conference action begins with a three-game series at Newberry on Feb. 23-24 marking the fourth straight season that the Eagles open up SAC play on the road. It is a part of a 27-game schedule against the league as Carson-Newman will play every team in the conference for the first time since 2015.
February closes with a home contest against King (Tenn.) on Feb. 27 in the first of two games against the Tornado.
March is jam-packed with 20 games including 11 on the road starting with a trek to Coker during the first weekend.
After mid-week efforts against Covenant and Bluefield State, the Eagles welcome reigning league titleholder Catawba to Mossy Creek. The Indians lost in the region final to sixth-ranked North Georgia a season ago finishing the year 40-17
Following a weekend against Anderson, a rematch of the 2017 SAC Baseball Championships title game will take place in Harrogate, Tenn. as the Eagles face the Railsplitters of Lincoln Memorial. The team won two games in the regional losing to North Georgia and Catawba to be eliminated from the postseason.
March concludes with a home game against Shorter on March 27 and a three-game series at Wingate on the final two days of the month.
As the calendar flips to April, the Eagles open their longest homestand of the season with eight straight games inside of the friendly confines start on April 3 against Belmont Abbey. A weekend series against Mars Hill precedes a midweek effort against Limestone.
The final home games of the year come by way of a three-game series against Lenoir-Rhyne that will feature the 10-player senior class for the Eagles.
A four-game road trip rounds out the regular season beginning with a trip to the Music City on April 17 to face off against Trevecca Nazerene. To conclude the season, the Eagles take the short trip to Tusculum on April 20-21.
For the third straight season the SAC Baseball Championships will be held at Smokies Stadium from April 26-30, 15 minutes down the road from Carson-Newman's campus. The top two seeds will earn a spot in the double-elimination bracket. The third and six seeds and fourth and fifth seeds battle Thursday, April 26 in single-elimination games seeking a chance to get to the main bracket.
Griffin's unit has had success over the first two seasons posting a 6-4 record during the tournament. In 2016, the unit was one of the final three teams remaining in the field losing a 9-7 slugfest to Tusculum late Sunday night.
Last season the ball club rattled off three straight wins winning four total elimination games to earn a spot in championship Monday against Lincoln Memorial as the No. 7 seed fell to the 'Splitters 9-4.
"The key is get the good spot," Griffin said of the conference tournament. "If you get the play-in game that can be dicey. So to have that buy and get into the double elimination portion is crucial for you club. It's nice knowing where it's at. We love it. We love the atmosphere. We are very comfortable in that atmosphere. The guys have played in that stadium before whether at Carson-Newman or their high school program. It certainly helps. It's a big factor for us. Last year was a big indication of just get in it and have a couple good days of baseball and there you are sitting in the finals with an opportunity to do something great."
Fans can enjoy baseball all season long on the Eagle Sports Network with coverage beginning 10 minutes prior to the first pitch of every contest on cneagles.com/live. Road games will feature an audio stream while home games will have a high definition video stream accompanying the radio call.
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