Thursday, October 04, 2007

JMU releases 2008 Schedule

HARRISONBURG, Va., Oct. 3, 2007 – Seven home dates to open the season and the usual 30-game Colonial Athletic Association slate highlight the 2008 James Madison University baseball schedule announced Wednesday by 11th-year head coach Spanky McFarland.

“It’s not one of our strongest schedules, but there were a lot of factors that went into that,” McFarland commented. “With starting conference play against William & Mary on the second weekend, we lost a big travel weekend opportunity. Then there are some schools we’ve played regularly that weren’t able to fit us in their schedule this year. We also have a young team that didn’t make the conference tournament last year, so we wanted to focus on building confidence and making the tournament this year.”

The 2008 season is the first for the new uniform start date for baseball in NCAA Division I. Beginning this season, no team can begin play prior to Friday, February 22. The Dukes open the season that weekend, February 23 and 24, with a doubleheader against Binghamton on Saturday and a single game on Sunday.

“The new rule doesn’t affect us too much because of where we’re located. This was a compromise between some of the northern conferences that wanted to start in March and the southern schools that used to start in January. Our schedule is really about the same. It will be interesting to see how it affects the southern schools that can’t spread their games out like they used to and will need more pitching. I expect that we won’t see as many 40-win teams in the nation. It also gives more validity to the national polls with everyone starting on the same date.”

With 10 weekends necessary to play 30 conference games, JMU will begin CAA play in the second weekend with a three-game home series against William & Mary. Other home CAA series include Towson, Delaware, VCU, and UNC Wilmington.

The Dukes will have three of their longest CAA road trips all in one season with series at Georgia State, Hofstra, and Northeastern. JMU will also have series at Old Dominion on Easter weekend and at George Mason. The Atlanta and Boston trips will be extended with each opened by single games at Tennessee and Marist respectively. UT is entering its first season with former JMU assistant Todd Raleigh as head coach.

JMU’s schedule will also feature traditional home and away dates against Virginia Tech and George Washington. The Dukes will face in-state opponents Longwood and Radford four times each, splitting time home and away, while facing Liberty three times, including twice on the road. One-time opponents include a home date with Stony Brook and a road game at East Tennessee State that follows a weekend at Radford.

JMU is currently planning a new baseball facility to be located at Memorial Hall on South High Street (route 42). While the exact completion date has not been determined, the 2008 campaign could be the final season of JMU baseball at Long Field/Mauck Stadium. The Dukes are 658-218-4 all-time in the facility that opened in 1980.

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