HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State will play 31 home games and take part in the 18th annual Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic, held from March 2-4 at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, highlighting a formidable 2018 schedule.
The Bearkats, who are coming off a historic run to the NCAA Super Regionals, will play 18 games against opponents who reached the 2017 NCAA Tournament including nine at Don Sanders Stadium.
Sam Houston will play four games against the Southeastern Conference including facing national-powers Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Mississippi State at Minute Maid Park. The Kats will seek a third-straight win against a Texas A&M team that reached the College World Series when the team takes on the Aggies in College Station on May 15.
The Kats will look to capture the Don Sanders Cup for a second-straight season, facing 2017 NCAA Regional-host Houston in three games including matchups in Huntsville (Feb. 20), Houston (April 18) and at Sugar Land’s Constellation Field (May 1).
Sam Houston begins its season with nine-straight home games including the season-opener on Feb. 16 against Kent State. After three against the Golden Flashes and a visit from Houston, the Bearkats will host a three-game set against Cincinnati (Feb. 23-25) and a pair against Wright State (Feb. 27-28).
For a second-consecutive season, Sam Houston squares off against Dallas Baptist. This go around, the Kats host the 2017 NCAA Tournament squad for a three-game set March 23-25. The Kats will play a home-and-home with Rice and Baylor as well as pay a visit to Texas (March 20).
The squad begins its 30-game Southland Conference slate, March 9-11, with a visit to Lamar. For the first time since 2014, the Bearkats host Southeastern Louisiana at The Don (May 4-6) in a bout between the two program’s that have represented the league in NCAA Tournament action the last two seasons.
Other home league series including Abilene Christian (March 29-31), Stephen F. Austin (April 13-15), Central Arkansas (April 20-22) and Houston Baptist (May 5-11). Sam Houston will seek its three-straight Southland Tournament title and fourth-consecutive appearance in the league championship game, with the event slated for May 23-26 at Constellation Field.
Head coach Matt Deggs’ outlook on the 2018 schedule…
“Coach Jay Sirianni does an incredible job. He is so well networked throughout college baseball. We are able to pull really good opponents here. It continues with our mantra. We’ve got to be able to be a program that will play anybody, anywhere and anytime. We love competition. It’s probably our most difficult schedule to date. It’s an incredibly difficult schedule to navigate and that is at the forefront of our mind every day when we take the field to practice. We have got to be a program that is great out of conference to drive the RPI. Our league is difficult as it is. This schedule gives us a chance to do that.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on playing 31 home games…
“We have great support from the top down … from the president, the AD all the way through our fan base, donors and alumni. We have unbelievably good facilities. Probably more than anything, we have an unbelievable location to play baseball. It’s very appealing for teams to come in here. You would be shocked at the ball clubs calling Coach Sirianni to play us. It’s two-fold. They know they will get a very competitive game and we have great weather. It makes this place very appealing. It’s not about win-loss record. It’s about development and making sure we get better every time out.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on competing in the 18th Annual Shriners Classic…
“That tournament has really evolved. We played in it several times back in the day at A&M. Shriners Hospital coming on board has been gigantic. It makes it more than baseball. We just spent five hours with a family who has two kids who were electrocuted and burned. Both of them, thank God, survived. They have been through the gauntlet. It really puts the emphasis on giving back and helping the community. At the same time, you get to play in a big-time venue against SEC opponents. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on competing for the second-annual Sanders Cup…
“It was an incredible idea that Coach Whitting put together down at U of H. We talked about it. Don got behind it. It was a great honor to win it our first year. UH is a quality opponent that hosted a Regional last year. They will probably be better this year. I like it and I am sure their kids like it because it’s a chance to compete for something outside of conference. It was well attended last year. We had three good games. That is becoming a battle we are looking forward to every year.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on what he saw from the team this fall…
“It’s been a very consistent team this fall. It’s probably our most consistent since we’ve been here. Guys understand the standard and expectation. They all get what’s at stake and on the line. They show up every day ready to work. They’ve done an incredible job mastering the routine and working to get better. It’s been fun; very encouraging and super exciting heading into the season.”