New University of Kentucky baseball coach Nick Mingione’s first Wildcats team will face nine opponents in 2017 that made last season’s NCAA Tournament.
UK announced a 2017 schedule Monday that opens with a three-game series at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill from Feb. 17-19.
The Wildcats will play their home opener on Feb. 28 against Eastern Kentucky, the first game in a six-game home stand that also includes a March 1 visit from Western Kentucky.
Kentucky’s annual games with archrival Louisville are scheduled for April 4 at Louisville and April 18 in Lexington.
The schedule also includes a visit to Western Kentucky (March 21) and home games against Murray State (March 14) and Northern Kentucky (May 16).
The Wildcats open Southeastern Conference play March 17-19 with a three-game series at Texas A&M. Kentucky’s first home SEC series is set for March 23-25 against Mississippi.
In addition to Texas A&M, UK travels to Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina and CWS participant Florida for SEC series. In addition to Ole Miss, the Cats will host Vanderbilt, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee in league play.
“We’re excited about the upcoming season,” Mingione said. “This is a challenging schedule and it begins right away with our trip to North Carolina. We’re going to embrace and attack the schedule from opening day. It’s the attitude you must have, especially in a league as difficult as the SEC. We look forward to competing and working toward bringing a championship to Lexington.”
UK returns eight positional starters, including first baseman/outfielder Evan White, a 2016 All-SEC Second Team and All-Defensive Team selection who spent the summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. Also returning are three critical bullpen pieces and a pair of midweek starters from a club that finished 32-25 with a 15-15 conference record in 2016.
Other schedule highlights include:
▪ Kentucky hosts 2016 College World Series participant UC-Santa Barbara from March 3-5.
▪ The SEC Tournament will be held May 23-28 in Hoover, Ala. The top 12 teams in the league standings advance to the tournament.
▪ UK plays 26 games against the nine NCAA Tournament participants from last season: Florida, LSU, Louisville, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, UC-Santa Barbara and Vanderbilt.