Monday, November 05, 2007

UTA releases 2008 schedule

Thirty-one games at Clay Gould Ballpark - including a home stretch in March to open Southland Conference play - highlight the 2008 UT Arlington baseball schedule released earlier this week by head coach Jeff Curtis.

The Mavericks open the season Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. against Arkansas-Little Rock.

UTA will play seven games against Big 12 competition. The Mavericks participate in a neutral-site event at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas, and do battle in two games against Tarrant County rival TCU.

The biggest difference this season is a late start. The NCAA pushed back Opening Day until Feb. 22, which means the Mavericks will cram 56 games into a season that lasts two fewer weeks. Instead of the single mid-week game that became commonplace over the past several years, the Mavericks and most other NCAA Division I teams will play two. In fact, UTA plays a Tuesday, April 15 game against Oklahoma State at Clay Gould Ballpark before traveling to Austin for a game the next day against Texas.

"Finding teams to play is never difficult, but getting the dates to work was a trick this season because of the shorter year," says Curtis, whose team will try to bounce back from a 13-40 finish last season. "What it means is that teams are going to have to have a deep, deep pitching staffs. We're going to find out pretty quick what players we'll have out there because of the number of games we have to start the year."

Including the season-opener, UTA will play 10 games in the first eight days of the season.

The Southland Conference opener is scheduled Friday, March 14 at home against Lamar, which finished 34-25 overall last season and won the SLC East Division crown with a 20-10 record. That series will close out a stretch the features eight of nine games at home. The only road game in that mix is in Fort Worth against TCU.

"With that many games at home and Lamar coming in, it's really important that we're playing well in that two-week span," Curtis said.

The popular UTA Invitational begins March 6 and includes the Mavericks, Dallas Baptist, McNeese State and Oral Roberts. That game against McNeese State will not count in the conference standings.

Each team in the SLC will play a three-game set against every other team in the league except one. This year, UTA will not face Central Arkansas. UTA's regular-season schedule ends Saturday, May 17 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The SLC Baseball Tournament is scheduled May 21-25 in Huntsville.

Curtis said another differences from last year to 2008 is that rainouts might simply not be made up. There might not be enough open dates in the schedule.

"It's a lot of games in a short amount of time, but kids really enjoy that 56-game schedule," Curtis said. "We're looking forward to it. Last season was unusual and disappointing, so we're ready to get underway."

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