We’re two weeks into Division I baseball, and so far, no one’s blown the doors off. Series wins for Northeastern, Hartford, and UConn, some tight games with top-25 opponents, but nothing like the eye-catching wins in Baton Rouge and Starkville that caught our attention last spring. With 15 teams featuring in some top-notch action this weekend, there’s a good chance that’ll change.
Hartford, after starting the season with a nice showing at the Duke Baseball Classic, draws the toughest assignment for this weekend.
Four in Charlottesville, including two against #3 Virginia. They’ll play games in Myrtle Beach this weekend, including one against an elite Virginia team. Coming off the deepest playoff run in school history and faced with some brutal weather, the Hoos haven’t missed a beat, sweeping East Carolina to start the year and winning an 18-inning thriller against Marist in their last game. The Hawks’ other two games on the weekend (against Seton Hall, picked third in the Big East) won’t be cakewalks either.
In 2013, it was eight straight against Florida State, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. In 2014, it was back-to-back weekends with mid-major powers Florida Gulf Coast and College of Charleston. This year, Rhode Island’s got another grueling stretch to start the year. Coming off a trip to Gainesville to play #2 Florida, the Rams head to Francis Marion
Boshamer Stadium (the weather may well force them somewhere else) for three against #11 North Carolina. The Tar Heels looked sloppy at times in their series loss to UCLA last weekend, but they’ve got more than enough talent and experience to test Rhody.
In the weekend’s televised series, Dartmouth kicks off its 2015 campaign with three at #14 Texas A&M. The Big Green have lost in the Ivy Championship Series for four years running. A non-conference slate that features A&M, Indiana, and UC Santa Barbara should prep them to break through. The Aggies swept Holy Cross in the first weekend and have started the year 7-0. You can catch all three games on WatchESPN.
Some other match-ups feature teams on the cusp of the top 25, who cracked D1Baseball’s “Others Considered.” UConn takes on one of 2014’s Cinderellas, Kennesaw State, and UMass Lowell travels to Dallas Baptist.
Boston College and Northeastern both head to Florida for the Snowbird Classic this weekend, ahead of their games with the Red Sox next week. Both teams have had solid starts to the year, winning two games in week one before running into SEC buzzsaws in week two. Their opponents in Port Charlotte include Omaha and Kansas. Maine will be right up the road in Winter Haven for a series with St. Bonaventure.
If you’re gonna travel 1,000+ miles to play, you might as well play somewhere nice, right? A few teams have series slated for parks that have been rebuilt or renovated within the last five years. Quinnipiac opens in the Shenandoah Valley for four at James Madison’s gorgeous Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park (I caught a Valley League game there this past summer). Bryant joins them in Virginia for three at the brand-new Liberty Baseball Stadium. UMass Lowell, after picking up a pair of wins down at Georgia State last weekend, heads to Texas to face Dallas Baptist in the glittering new Horner Ballpark.
Besides the above-mentioned Dartmouth and Quinnipiac, Brown (at South Alabama), Harvard (at Wofford),
Fairfield (at William & Mary), and Sacred Heart (at Northwestern State) are kicking of their seasons this weekend. Here’s hoping the weather holds out so they can all get outside. (If we’re canceling when its 30s and sunny, though, who knows.)
The Late Starters
Unless the weather fouls things up, 15 of the 18 D1’s will have played by the time this next Monday rolls around. That leaves UMass, Central Connecticut, and Yale waiting till March 3rd get things going. Seeing as how all of them are scheduled to play in Connecticut that day (UMass @ Central, Yale v. New Haven), they’ll probably be waiting even longer than that.
You can check out the complete D1Baseball Top 25 here, as well as a transcript of their weekly chat. And with Providence featuring in baseball news lately, a couple pieces from PC’s last season in 1999, one from the New York Times and a really touching post on the Florida State fan blog Section B.