|The Stetson baseball team will be loaded with new faces for the 2013 season, but the schedule the Hatters will face in coach Pete Dunn’s 34th season will be as challenging as ever.
The 22 opponents on the Hatters’ schedule for the spring come from 11 conferences and, as a group, averaged 30 victories during the 2012 season. But, most importantly for a young Stetson team, 38 of the 56 games on the schedule will be played in DeLand at Melching Field.
“It is always nice to have a schedule that is heavy with home games, but that is especially true with a young team like we will have,” Dunn said. “We'll have a great opportunity for the young pups to get their feet under them early in the year before we have to go on the road.”
While the Hatters will be young, they have added a solid crop of newcomers. The recruiting class for the 2013 season was ranked among the best in the nation (No. 22) by Collegiate Baseball and was also recognized by Baseball America as one of the best classes in the southeast region of the country.
The Hatters will open the season with six straight games at home, hosting Saint Joseph’s (Feb. 15-17) and Maine (Feb. 21-23) before driving across Volusia County for the first of two scheduled games against Bethune Cookman (Feb. 26). It will be the first meeting with Saint Joseph’s since 2005. The Hatters own a 16-2 all-time series lead against the Hawks. It will be the third straight year for Maine to visit DeLand.
After the cross-county rivalry game with Bethune-Cookman, the Hatters will host the annual Bright House Invitational Tournament the weekend of March 1-3. The tournament will feature a round robin format with Stetson hosting Central Michigan, Ohio State and Connecticut. It will be the sixth time in the last seven seasons for the Chippewas to appear on Stetson’s schedule. Ohio State (2001) and Connecticut (2008) are also returners to the Stetson schedule.
The Hatters will continue with a month-long stretch of home games when they host FIU (March 6), Princeton (March 8-10), Bethune-Cookman (March 12) and Fairfield (March 15-17). Fairfield is one of two first-time opponents for the Hatters.
The Hatters will have their first trip out of Volusia County on March 19-20 when they travel to Tallahassee to face the always tough Florida State Seminoles. This will be the third consecutive season in which the two programs, and their legendary head coaches, will play a pair of two game series. FSU will return the trip to DeLand on May 7-8.
Stetson will open Atlantic Sun Conference play on March 22 when long-time rival Mercer visits to open a three-game series. The only teams on the schedule that Stetson has played more often over the years are Miami (April 10) and Jacksonville (April 5-7).
The Hatters will host Florida A&M (March 26) between league series before Kennesaw State visits Melching Field March 28-30.
Stetson will embark on its one long road trip to open play in April. The Hatters will play eight consecutive games away from home over a two week stretch, with stops in Tampa to play South Florida (April 2), Jacksonville and Miami before closing the trip at Spartanburg, SC, in a three-game series at USC Upstate (April 12-14).
The USF Bulls will visit Melching Field on April 16 before the Hatters host East Tennessee State (April 19-21).
Another road trip, this one with stops in Nashville, Tenn., to play Lipscomb (April 26-28) and another trip to Tampa to play USF (May 1) precedes the final home stand of the season. Stetson will host North Florida (May 3-5), Florida State and A-Sun newcomer Northern Kentucky (May 10-12) to close out the home potion of the schedule.
The regular season will be capped May 16-18 in Fort Myers against Florida Gulf Coast.
The A-Sun Tournament will return to Melching Field the week of May 22-25 with the tournament champion earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Before the Hatters get to the 2013 schedule, the team is still in the middle of fall practice. The squad has three more practice days in the coming week before the annual Hatter Series, which is scheduled for November 8-10. All practices, including the games in the Hatter Series, are free and open to the public.
As a part of the Homecoming celebration this past weekend, the Stetson baseball program hosted their annual Alumni Game on Saturday evening, November 3. The game featured many past Stetson stars, as 41 former players from teams going back as far as the early 1960s participated.