Forehand, with 21 newcomers on the roster, thinks this year’s schedule will help prepare his players for the Atlantic Sun Conference.
“I think you try to put together your schedule with the end of the season in mind, knowing that you are going to play in a six-team conference tournament and. Hopefully, an NCAA regional after that,” said Forehand. “I like our non-conference schedule.
“In hindsight last year we may have bitten off too much. This year I think the schedule is right where it should be. I think we are going to learn a lot in the non-conference games.”
The Bisons will open the season at home Feb. 19 with a three-game series against Murray State from the Ohio Valley Conference at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
The first road trip will send the Bisons to New Orleans for a three-game series with Tulane starting on Feb. 26.
“We were originally going to open against Tulane, but now we have the opportunity to open at home against Murray State which had a great season last year in the OVC,” said Forehand. “They are returning a lot of players and their coaches do a great job. Then we go to Tulane which has a couple of pitchers that are touted high in the draft.
“We have done that the last few years. We have gone to Georgia Tech and Southern Miss to get our feet wet early. We dropped three games at Southern Miss but we were in the games. We were in one of the games in Georgia Tech and had a chance to win it.”
Three Southeastern Conference teams are on the schedule with road trips to Tennessee (April 13) and Kentucky (May 12). The Bisons will play Vanderbilt on the road March 23. The Commodores will visit Lipscomb April 20.
The Bisons will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., March 12 and 13 to play in Coastal Carolina’s tournament. They will face Illinois, Michigan and Ball State.
“The chance to play some bigger schools in a sunny environment will be really nice,” said Forehand.
In addition to Vanderbilt, the Bisons will play several other local teams. Middle Tennessee State, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, visits March. The Bisons will travel to Murfreesboro to face the Blue Raiders March 31.
Three other Ohio Valley Conference teams are also on the schedule. Tennessee Tech visits Lipscomb April 6 and then they head to Cookeville the next day to complete the series. The Bisons visit Tennessee-Martin March 2. Tennessee-Martin will play at Lipscomb April 21. The Bisons travel to Austin Peay March 24. They will host the Governors May 18.
Rounding out the non-conference schedule are three-game series with Canisius (March 5-7) and Illinois State (April 2-3) and a two-game series with Youngstown State (March 9-10).
The Bisons will open the Atlantic Sun portion of the schedule March 19-21 at Belmont. The first A-Sun home series is March 26-27 against ETSU.
The A-Sun regular season schedule becomes even more of a challenge this season with every team eligible for the conference tournament with the exception of USC-Upstate.
The Atlantic Sun Tournament will be hosted by Lipscomb this season from May 25-29. The Bisons, the Atlantic Sun Tournament Champion in 2008, are seeking their third straight trip to the tournament championship game.
“Florida Gulf Coast will be picked first in the conference poll, no question,” said Forehand. “They have the whole team returning and a possible No. 1 draft pick pitching.”
In addition to Florida Gulf Coast, the other new tournament eligible teams are Kennesaw State and North Florida.
“Winning the conference regular season is everybody’s goal,” said Forehand. “But you can’t move on until you make the conference tournament. Six teams are going to make it. Five teams are not.
“One of the reasons we wanted to host the tournament was to have every advantage to make a regional. Hosting a conference tournament is big, but you have to make it.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.