KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island baseball head coach Jim Foster has released the team's 2013 schedule, which includes 13 games against teams that competed in last season's NCAA tournament. Each of the Rams' first eight contests are against opponents ranked in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Preseason Top-25, making URI's out-of-conference slate one of the toughest in the country.
"Its important to me that we continue to play the best teams in the nation," said Foster. "We certainly have our work cut out for ourselves with this schedule, but I have every bit of confidence in our guys' ability to get out there and compete with anyone in the country."
The Rams' first challenge will be a three-game set (Feb. 15-17) at #19 Florida State, which ended last year ranked No. 4 after reaching the College World Series. The Rams – who will make their second trip to Dick Howser Stadium in as many seasons – nearly beat then-No. 1 FSU last spring, but Florida State scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to escape with a 6-5 win.
"Our guys are really excited about opening the season down at Florida State," Foster noted. "A lot of the players still feel the sting of dropping the series finale down there last season so I know they're looking forward to the rematch."
Next up will be a five-game stretch at #25 Ole Miss (Feb. 22-24) and #13 Mississippi State (Feb. 26-27). Both teams competed in the NCAA Regionals a year ago.
Rhode Island opens March at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, N.C. as the Rams play single games against Virginia Tech (March 1), Ohio (March 2) and Notre Dame (March 3).
Rhody then hits the road for a pair of games at Eastern Tennessee State University (March 10-11), one at Wake Forest (March 12) and one at UNC Greensboro (March 13). The Rams will wrap up their seven-game swing with a three-game set at Winthrop (March 15-17).
URI opens play at home on March 19, when it hosts Sacred Heart, another NCAA Regional team from 2012. A day later, the Rams welcome 2012 College World Series participant Stony Brook to Bill Beck Field, followed by a three-game home series against Hofstra (March 23-24).
"Each year, our goals are the same: win an Atlantic 10 championship, compete in a regional and, ultimately, compete in a super regional and then knock on Omaha's door," Foster added. "I think our early-season games will have us well-prepared for what lies ahead in the conference."
Rhody opens league play at home, with a trio of games against defending Atlantic 10 champion and 2012 NCAA Regional round participant Dayton (March 29-31).
Other home A-10 series include: Massachusetts (April 5-7), Temple (April 19-21) and St. Bonaventure (May 3-5). The series against Temple will feature the team's annual Autism Awareness Day (April 20) as well as Little League Day (April 21). The series with the Bonnies features Rick Ligi Day (May 4) and Senior Day (May 5).
Rhode Island's road conference series will be at Fordham (April 12-14), Xavier (April 26-28), Butler (May 10-12) and Saint Joseph's (May 16-18).
The Rams will also host non-conference games against Central Connecticut (April 3), Quinnipiac (April 9), Boston College (April 30) and Connecticut (May 14). The Quinnipiac game also will be Military Day at The Beck.
Rhody's other non-conference road games include: Northeastern (April 2), Bryant (April 10), Boston College (April 16), Brown (April 23) and Hartford (April 24).
This year's Atlantic 10 Championship will be held at Charlotte's Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, May 22-25.