College of Charleston baseball head coachMonte Lee has released the 2014 schedule.
With games against 2013 College World Series semifinalist North Carolina, two-time national champion South Carolina and 2012 College World Series Cinderella Kent State, the schedule offers a strong blend of challenging competition with traditional rivalries as the Cougars embark on their first season in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Along with North Carolina, CofC will also face five more participants from the 2013 NCAA Tournament including South Carolina, Coastal Carolina, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary and Towson. Non-conference opponents Bethune-Cookman, Kent State and Appalachian State went to the tournament in 2012.
Last season, the CAA sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament in UNC Wilmington, William & Mary and Towson. The conference finished with the ninth-best RPI in all of college baseball with four teams cracking the top 100.
"We're excited about our 2014 schedule," Lee said. "We feel like the strength of our non-conference slate, combined with a tough Colonial schedule will challenge us and put us in a position for a spot in the postseason. We have some exciting games against national powers along with a substantial home schedule and games against many of our traditional rivals. We're also looking forward to jumping into a new Colonial league with new teams, staffs and venues."
Far from being a team constantly traveling to colder locales, the Cougars will host 35 home games, the second-most in any season under Lee. For a stretch between February 18 and March 30, College of Charleston will play only one game outside of the Lowcountry area, a March 25th matchup at South Carolina.
After opening with a series in Chapel Hill on Valentine's Weekend, the Cougars start the home season against Charleston Southern on Feb. 18. CofC will then host weekend series with Rhode Island and Marist, sandwiching mid-week home games against Charlotte, Toledo and former SoCon rival, Georgia Southern.
On March 7-9, the Charleston baseball community will be treated to a three-game series between CofC and The Citadel, with Friday and Sunday's games coming at The Citadel's Riley Park and Saturday's matchup at Patriots Point.
After a home game against Jacksonville, CofC welcomes Michigan, Kent State and Appalachian State for a weekend tournament from March 14-16.
Charleston hosts Houston for a three-game set before traveling to Columbia, S.C., to play the perennial national title contenders in South Carolina.
The first CAA series comes at Patriots Point on March 28 when the Cougars host the Huskies of Northeastern. The first conference road series is the next weekend when Charleston will travel to play Towson, the 2013 CAA tournament champions.
College of Charleston returns to have three straight home weekends with Delaware, James Madison and Bethune-Cookman coming to the Point. The Cougars play the first of two games against regional rival Coastal Carolina on the road on April 22. That game is currently scheduled for Pelicans Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as the Chanticleers continue renovations on their home park.
The end of the conference season will be the toughest for the Cougars with a road series at regular season champion and budding conference rival UNC Wilmington from May 2-4. Charleston then travels to New York to face Hofstra on May 9-11, followed by a home game against Coastal Carolina the following Tuesday.
The regular season concludes at home with William & Mary, a team that finished second last season and earned one of the conference's three bids to the 2013 NCAA Regionals.
This year, the CAA Tournament will be held on May 21-24 at UNC Wilmington's Brooks Field. College of Charleston will be hosting the conference tournament in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Charleston is coming off a 2012 season where CofC went 31-26, but an 18-11 conference record earned the Cougars' a second-place finish in the Southern Conference. The Cougars will be returning the bulk of the team's offense with seven of the top eight hitters returning, including Freshman All-American Carl Wise. The pitching will be relying on sophomore Nathan Helvey and reliever Derrick Smith bolstered by a rash of young, new talent from the recruiting trail.