JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A 49-game schedule was released by Carson-Newman baseball coach Tom Griffin Tuesday afternoon that features 29 home contests and 24 South Atlantic Conference outings.
After beginning SAC play the first weekend of the 2015 season, the conference shuffled the slate to have teams play eight league foes during the season leaving two schools off of each team's schedule. The Eagles will play 18 games before SAC play begins on March 4th at Brevard.
"As coaches the one concern that we had in our conference was starting conference play so early like we did," Griffin said. "Who could have their pitchers ready? I think it was a great idea that our coaches did a great job presenting that to the athletic directors and them agreeing to move it a little bit later. It allows us to start later and prepare our kids for at least a month."
Carson-Newman will play home-and-home series with Limestone, Shorter, King (Tenn.) and Belmont Abbey. The Eagles play three games at home against UVA-Wise before a trip for midweek game against the Cavaliers. Bluefield State, Lee and Trevecca Nazerene all come to the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex for the lone meeting between the programs in 2016.
"It gives us an opportunity to play a lot of games at home in February," Griffin said. "It's good and bad. It's good because you are playing at home. Bad part is you don't know what the weather is going to be like. Last year we got dumped with about a foot of snow so you're hoping you can get those games in before conference play."
The conference slate has the Eagles hosting Mars Hill, Coker, Newberry and Catawba while traveling to Brevard, Wingate, Anderson (S.C.) and Tusculum.
The first five games of the year are all away from the friendly confines will the lidlifter coming at Limestone on Feb. 2nd for the second straight season. It is a part of the longest road stretch of the season for the Eagles.
Carson-Newman gets a major challenge during the first weekend of the season with a three-game series against 2015 Southeast Region runner-up North Georgia. The Nighthawks finished 38-17 last season, the second-most wins in NCAA play in the program's history.
Following a trip to Shorter on Feb. 10th, the Eagles open the doors to the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex for the first of eight-straight home games and 12 of 13 at Mossy Creek with a three-game series against UVA-Wise.
After a midweek game against King (Tenn.), Griffin's group welcomes Northwood (Mich.) of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to town for back-to-back doubleheaders on Feb. 19th-20th.
McKendree comes to Jefferson City for a three-game set after a road trip to Belmont Abbey. The Bearcats collected a record of 9-39 in 2015.
League play ramps up for the Eagles following a midweek home outing against Bluefield State when Carson-Newman travels to Brevard for a three-game series beginning on March 4th.
Lee, Mars Hill and Belmont Abbey are in town over a seven-day stretch ending on March 15th with the Crusaders prior to a road trip to the 2015 SAC Tournament Champions, Wingate, on March 18th.
An eight-game homestand begins on March 25th for the Eagles following a trek to UVA-Wise. Coker and Newberry venture to Mossy Creek for crucial midseason conference series. Limestone and Shorter bookend the Newberry series.
Following a trip to Anderson and King (Tenn.) the Eagles welcome national powerhouse Catawba for a three-game series at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex. The Indians fell to Tampa in the 2015 National Championship series and return the National Player of the Year in Will Albertson. Carson-Newman took two of three against Catawba to begin the 2015 league season as the Eagles look to duplicate that effort.
After a home game against Trevecca Nazerene on April 19th, the Eagles close out the year with a journey to in-state foe Tusculum to wrap-up the year.
The Eagles are looking to qualify for the SAC Tournament for the second straight year and would get a nice advantage if they did so. From April 28th to May 2nd, Smokies Park, the home of the Chicago Cubs Double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies, in nearby Kodak, Tenn. will play host for the automatic bid from the SAC.
"It's nice to have it close," Griffin said. "For one reason financially it's a great option that we don't have to pay for a hotel and meals. You better make that tournament or else your boss is going to be upset. This conference literally top to bottom I think anyone has a chance of winning. If you go from top to bottom in the last five year any of those teams have a chance at winning a weekend series. That's great balance. I think the success that we've seen with some of our teams in regional play in the couple years it's certainly a very competitive conference that's not just competitive within ourselves but also within the region."
Every game during the 2016 season will be broadcast on cneagles.com/live with home games providing high definition video and road games using audio to air the contest courtesy of the Eagle Sports Network.