HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State head baseball coach Matt Deggs announced a challenging 2019 slate for the Bearkats on Monday, with season tickets for the 2019 season at Don Sanders Stadium going on sale immediately.
Deggs' squad finished 39-20 a in 2018, winning the Southland Conference championship with a 24-6 record, but just missed out on an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament, finishing with an RPI of 55 at season’s end. This season, with 21 returners from last year’s team, the Kats are raising the bar even higher in 2019.
Of Sam Houston’s 17 non-conference opponents, 13 were ranked in the RPI top 100 in 2018, including eight in the top 50 - three of which advanced to last season’s College World Series in Omaha.
“This schedule will turn out to be one of the toughest schedules in the country when the dust settles, and we want it that way,” Deggs said. “We feel that we must be challenged on the road and at home to ensure that we have the highest RPI possible and to be prepared to play our best ball when it matters most in May and June.”
Fans will be able to purchase tickets immediately by visiting GoBearkats.com/Tickets or by calling 936-294-1729. Reserved chairback seats will be on sale for a price of $230 that includes a $100 commitment to the Bearkat Champions Fund. General admission tickets are on sale for $125, and admission to the Bearkat Champions Tent can be added on for $200.
Single-game tickets for the 2019 season are scheduled to go on sale January 21. Some games may be excluded.
In all, the Bearkats are set for 28 games at Don Sanders Stadium this season and are set to host the likes of TCU, Texas A&M, Houston, Rice, Baylor, Louisiana and UConn. But the season will kick off the season on the road when they head to DeLand, Fla., to take part in the Rycrass Classic – hosted by Stetson – on Feb. 15-17. There they will face off with Manhattan (No. 179 in 2018 RPI) in the season opener and Virginia Tech (No. 146 in 2018 RPI), along with the host Hatters who won a regional, finished with a No. 7 RPI and were just two wins away from Omaha.
“A year ago we had the 12th-rated non-conference schedule at one point, won 39 games with that schedule, won the Southland conference by winning 24 of 30 games and with all that we were still one of the last teams out and left at home,” Deggs said. “So, in saying that, obviously that doesn’t sit too well with any of us here. We must take it up a notch with our schedule and our overall performance out of conference. This 2019 schedule will leave us with zero excuses. It’s all right there in front of us. It is just a matter of getting it done.”
The Kats will then return to Huntsville from Florida for a four-game week at The Don to kick off the 2019 home schedule, hosting Texas Southern on Feb. 19 before taking on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (No. 58 in 2018 RPI) in a three-game weekend series.
The following week will be one of the most challenging weeks for any team in the country, a five-game week that includes three games against teams who qualified for last season’s College World Series. The Kats will open the week with a Feb. 26 trip to Disch-Falk Field to face Texas (No. 19 in 2018 RPI) and immediately come back to The Don on Feb. 27 to host TCU (No. 57 in 2018 RPI), the first time the Horned Frogs have come to Huntsville since 2005.
Sam Houston will then head north for the following weekend to Dr Pepper Ballpark, the home of the Frisco Rough Riders, to take part in the Frisco Classic. There they will battle Mississippi State (No. 18 in 2018 RPI) for the second straight year, Nebraska (No. 105 in 2018 RPI) and Texas Tech (No. 8 in 2018 RPI).
“Our past success on a national level has made us an attractive opponent for any school in the country,” Deggs said. “Teams know what they are getting in us and they know we are bringing a significant RPI opportunity with us. Coach Jay Sirianni has, yet again, done an amazing job using that to our advantage and giving us a chance to go up against some of the best teams in the country week after week. And that’s what we all signed up for.”
A trip to Rice (No. 89 in 2018 RPI) follows the trip to Frisco and the Kats will stay in Houston for the weekend when they kick off Southland Conference play against Houston Baptist for a three-game series beginning March 8.
An eight-game road swing will then come to an end with a two-game midweek series at Louisiana Tech (No. 61 in 2018 RPI), setting up Sam Houston to open up its home conference schedule on March 15 against UIW.
Other midweek games include a home-and-home series with Baylor (No. 35 in 2018 RPI) and a return game from the Owls on April 2, while the Kats will also look to retain the Don Sanders Cup with its three midweek games against Houston (No. 42 in 2018 RPI), beginning March 26 in Houston.
The Kats will host UConn (No. 20 in 2018 RPI) for its league bye weekend, a three-game series to open on April 26. That series will lead into one of the biggest midweek games of the year on April 30 when Sam Houston plays host to Texas A&M (No. 17 in 2018 RPI) in the Aggies’ first trip to Huntsville since 2013.
Florida Atlantic (No. 30 in 2018 RPI) visits Huntsville on May 7 for the final midweek game of the year for the Kats and leads Sam Houston into a difficult six-game stretch to close out the regular season as they travel to Southeastern Louisiana from May 10-12 and then host defending SLC Tournament champion Northwestern State from May 16-18.
The Southland Conference Tournament is set to be played once again at Constellation Field in Sugar Land from May 22-25.