CHARLESTON, SC - Five conference champions, three new Southern Conference members and the continuation of rivalries against several in-state opponents highlight The Citadel's 2015 baseball schedule, head coach Fred Jordan announced on Wednesday.
At the conclusion of a challenging regular season slate, the Bulldogs will serve as host to the SoCon Tournament at Riley Park on May 20-24. This will mark the 23rd time in 26 years that the tournament will be held in Charleston.
The campaign gets underway Feb. 13-15 with a visit from Air Force, while the SoCon schedule begins with a trip to Cullowhee, N.C., on Mar. 27-29 against defending regular season champion Western Carolina (37-18 in 2014).
The annual home-and-home series with South Carolina continues with a game at Riley Park on Mar. 31 and the rematch in Columbia on Apr. 8. The Gamecocks won 44 times last season, including a split with The Citadel, and hosted a regional for the fifth straight year.
The Bulldogs also have a pair of games with Winthrop (Rock Hill, Mar. 11; Riley Park, Mar. 18), Charleston Southern (Riley Park, Apr. 21; Ladson, Apr. 28) and currently have one game scheduled with Coastal Carolina at home on Mar. 4.
Mercer, VMI and East Tennessee State joined the SoCon this year, and all three will play at Riley Park this season. Mercer (Apr. 2-4) and ETSU (May 8-10) have been two of the stronger teams in the Atlantic Sun in recent years, with the Bears winning 196 games over the last five seasons including a 38-17 mark a year ago.
Tony Skole, a standout third baseman and defensive back at The Citadel and a member of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame, is entering his 15th season as the head coach at ETSU and led the Bucs to 36 wins and the A-Sun title in 2013.
VMI (Apr. 24-26) joins the SoCon after spending the past 11 years in the Big South. The Keydets, under first-year head coach Jonathan Hadra, are coming off a 25-23 season a year ago.
The Bulldogs will also face three former members of the SoCon, including a home-and-home series against College of Charleston. The teams will meet Feb. 20 and 22 at Patriots Point at Riley Park the day in between. The Cougars are coming off a 44-19 season that was highlighted by the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and Gainesville Regional titles.
Elon, which joined the Cougars in the CAA this year, comes to Charleston Mar. 6-8, and the Bulldogs play at Georgia Southern on Feb. 24 before hosting the Eagles on Mar. 17. Georgia Southern, 40-23 a year ago, edged Samford in a dramatic SoCon Tournament championship game last May and won an opening round game of the Tallahassee Regional over host Florida State.