EDWARDSVILLE — The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville baseball program has announced its schedule for the 2013 campaign. The Cougars have scheduled 54 regular season games, will once again play a complete Ohio Valley Conference schedule, and will be eligible for OVC and NCAA Division I postseason play for the first time.
"The chance to play in the postseason means everything," SIUE acting head coach Tony Stoecklin said. "Qualifying for the postseason will be our No. 1 priority."
The schedule begins Feb. 15 when SIUE travels to Nashville to take on Lipscomb in a three-game weekend series. The Cougars then travel to Little Rock, Ark., for a four-game series at Arkansas-Little Rock before opening the home season.
The home slate kicks off with an eight-game home stand, beginning with a four-game series against IPFW, of the Summit League, March 1-3.
Illinois State comes to the Simmons Baseball Complex for a single game March 5 before the Cougars begin OVC play with in-state rival Eastern Illinois. The three-game series begins Fri., March 8.
SIUE will welcome Murray State (March 22-24), Southeast Missouri (April 5-7), Eastern Kentucky (April 19-21), and UT Martin (May 3-5) for weekend OVC series during the year. The Cougars travel for series at Jacksonville State (March 15-17), Tennessee Tech (March 28-30), new OVC member Belmont (April 12-14) Morehead State (April 26-28), and Austin Peay (May 16-18).
"The OVC will be a tough conference," Stoecklin said. "There's not a lot of separation from the top teams to the bottom."
The OVC Tournament takes place May 22-26 at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tenn. The top six teams in the Conference standings will qualify for the postseason tournament. The winner earns the OVC's automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Cougars also will travel to Southern Mississippi, of Conference USA, for a weekend series May 10-12.
"That will be an interesting weekend with excellent competition and large crowds," Stoecklin said of the series in Hattiesburg, Miss. "I'm curious to see how my team will respond."
Other nonconference home games include Bradley, Saint Louis, Indiana State, and Evansville. SIUE will play nonconference road contests at Illinois State, Saint Louis, Indiana State, Bradley, and Evansville.
"We really don't have any easy midweek games," Stoecklin added. "Every one of the Missouri Valley schools will be tough to beat."
SIUE finished 2012 with an overall mark of 27-28. The Cougars finished with a 13-14 record in OVC play, good for sixth place, and would have qualified for a spot in the OVC Championships had they been eligible.