NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb’s 11th-year head baseball coach Jeff Forehand announced the 2017 schedule for the Diamond Bisons Thursday morning.
The 55-game slate features 34 contests against 18 opponents within the friendly confines of Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium, where the Purple and Gold is 187-124 (.601) during Forehand’s tenure. The Bisons have won at least 22 games in each of their last three seasons at “The Doog”.
“We love playing at home and we feel our park is as good and nice as anywhere else in the country,” Forehand said. “We take pride in playing in front of our fans, so we like to schedule as many home games as we can.”
Highlighting the challenging schedule will be 16 games against teams that finished inside the top-115 of the final 2016 RPI standings, a weekend trip to SEC country to face Auburn and a three-game home series with Big Ten member Michigan.
“Looking at the entire schedule on paper for the first time, it seems to me that we have put together a pretty tough schedule,” Forehand said. “It is a challenging schedule for us, but as always it is one that we are very excited about.
“This is an exciting time as we are not too far out from baseball season. We are looking forward to some excitement at Dugan Field to start the season off.”
For the eighth consecutive season the Bisons will open their season at home, hosting a three-game series against Oakland University (Feb. 17-19).
The following weekend is the “Mule Mix Classic”, a round-robin that will bring Missouri State (Feb. 24), Bowling Green State (Feb. 25) and Northwestern (Feb. 26) to the Music City. Lipscomb annually hosts the event with Belmont and Middle Tennessee.
Without question the toughest stretch of the nonconference portion of the schedule is the first two weekends in March. The Bisons will make their first road trip of the season at Auburn (March 3-5) before coming back home to host Michigan (March 10-12).
“Michigan is going to be a very tough opponent,” Forehand said. “They are coached by Erik Bakich, one our buddies that coached at Vanderbilt for a while, and he has done a tremendous job with their program.
“Playing that far north so early in the season is tough and they were looking to get to some warmer weather. Being able to play a power-five program like Michigan at home is a big opportunity for our guys and our program. We are definitely looking forward to that series.”
The Bisons will also host nonconference series against Illinois State (March 17-19), Evansville (March 24-26) and Mississippi Valley State (May 5-7).
“Being able to bring in Michigan, Illinois State and Evansville within the first month of the season will provide us with some strong opponents and help us get prepared for conference play,” Forehand said.
On March 28th the Bisons will play their only neutral site matchup of the season at First Tennessee Park against perennial power and crosstown rival Vanderbilt. The date will halt a streak of six consecutive games played at Hawkins Field between the two programs.
Lipscomb will host three ASUN Conference matchups in 2017: North Florida (April 7-9), Kennesaw State (April 28-30) and Stetson (May 18-20).
The Bisons will go on the road to face four league opponents, including three of the first four weekends of conference action. They open ASUN play at USC Upstate (March 31-April 2), before traveling to Jacksonville (April 13-15) and visiting NJIT (April 21-23) for the first time in program history. The final road series is a weekend trip to FGCU (May 12-14).
Midweek matchups are littered with Volunteer State rivals visiting Dugan Field, including Middle Tennessee (Feb. 21), Tennessee Tech (March 7), UT-Martin (March 15), Austin Peay (April 18) and Belmont (April 25). Also making one-game trips to Nashville are Western Kentucky (Feb. 28) and Alabama A&M (May 9).
The ASUN Championship is returning to the state of Florida where Stetson will serve as the host May 24-27.
“I am glad that Coach (Pete) Dunn was able to get the conference championship back at his place with this being his last year in coaching,” Forehand said. “He has done so much for our conference and the game of baseball that I think it is only fitting that Stetson gets to host, and especially after the show they put on in the tournament here last season.
“They always do a good job of putting on the championship, so I have no doubt it will be a great weekend for us down there in May.”
2017 Schedule By The Numbers
55 Total Games
34 Games at Dugan Field
20 True Road Games
11 Games vs. Teams Which Finished 2016 with Top-100 RPI
8 Games against Power 5 opponents
4 Games vs. 2016 NCAA Tournament Participants
2 ASUN Series Which Run Thursday-Saturday
1 Neutral Site Game