TOLEDO - The Toledo baseball program will compete in 56 games over the course of its 2013 campaign, Head Coach Cory Mee announced on Friday, Dec. 7. Fifteen of the contests will take place at the friendly confines of Scott Park. The Rockets were 13-7 in home contests a season ago and sport an impressive 82-50 (.621) ledger at the corner of Parkside Blvd. and Hill Ave. over the last seven seasons.
UT will again face a formidable non-league slate in 2013 against some of the nation's elite conferences. Games against teams from the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big East, Big South, Atlantic 10, Sun Belt and Horizon highlight the schedule.
"Early in the year, I like to challenge my team and play the best competition we can," said Mee, who begins his 10th year at the helm of the Rockets' program in 2013. "We try to give the players new experiences by going to some different places in hopes of preparing them to be successful during MAC play."
Added Mee, "We understand what lies ahead of us with the teams we will square off against, but I think if we focus on the things we can control and concentrate on how we're playing, we can put ourselves in position to compete with anybody."
The 2012 Mid-American Conference West Division champions begin the 2013 campaign with an unprecedented 25 road contests before commencing its home campaign on Friday, March 29 against Miami. The most consecutive road games Toledo had to open the season under Mee's tenure was 22 contests last spring.
Toledo will get the ball rolling on Friday-Sunday, Feb. 15-17 when it travels to Cary, NC to battle LaSalle (Feb. 15), Albany (Feb. 16), Villanova (Feb. 16) and Temple (Feb. 17) as part of the Wright State Tournament.
"We open the spring at the USA Baseball Complex against four very good teams," Mee said. "That weekend will be a good indicator of where we're at."
The following weekend, UT will venture to Charlottesville, VA for a three-game series with Virginia on Friday-Sunday, Feb. 22-24. The ACC member Cavaliers picked up 39 wins in 2012 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
After returning to Northwest Ohio each of the first two weekends, UT will begin its annual Spring Break trip in Tampa, FL with a three-game set vs. South Florida on Friday-Sunday, March 1-3. The Big East member Bulls claimed 38 victories a season ago. From there, Toledo will make its way to Port Charlotte, FL to tangle with Big East member Georgetown (March 5) and Horizon League participant Valparaiso (March 6) in the Snowbird Classic. The Rockets will then wrap up their southern trip with a three-game series at Sun Belt member Florida Atlantic on March 8-10 in Boca Raton. The Owls had 32 wins in 2012.
Following its Spring Break trip, Toledo will return to the Midwest for a single contest at Dayton (March 12) and four games at Pittsburgh's Panther Classic (March 15-17) for a second consecutive season. UT is slated to compete against Niagara (March 15-16) and the host Panthers (March 16-17) at the three-day classic. The Flyers won 31 games a season ago and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The Rockets will keep their bags packed and remain on the road for a single game at Horizon League member Wright State (March 20), before opening MAC play at East Division foe Ohio (March 22-24).
UT's remaining non-conference opponents include Big Ten member Ohio State (March 26), College World Series participant Kent State (April 2, April 11), Big East member Cincinnati (April 3), Dayton (April 9), Big Ten member Michigan State (April 16), Horizon League participant Youngstown State (April 17), Big East member Notre Dame (April 23) and Big Ten participant Michigan (May 8).
"Our non-conference games are designed to help prepare us for MAC play and we definitely have a challenging non-league slate," Mee said. "We know we're going to have our work cut out for us."
This spring, the Rockets will have four home MAC weekends, consisting of Miami (March 29-31), Bowling Green (April 12-14), Central Michigan (April 19-21) and Northern Illinois (May 3-5). As part of its 27-game league ledger, Toledo will face Ohio, Buffalo (April 5-7), Western Michigan (April 26-28), Ball State (May 10-12) and Eastern Michigan (May 16-18) on the road.
"We know that the MAC is a competitive conference from top to bottom," Mee said. "We have to be ready to play every single day. That is the mindset that we're trying to instill in our guys. We know we have a great challenge ahead of us with the teams we are playing, but I think if we focus on the things we can control and concentrate on how we're playing we can put ourselves in position to compete with anybody in the MAC."
Toledo returns 20 letterwinners in 2013, including seven position starters nine pitchers, from last year's squad that finished with a 30-27 overall record, 19-8 in the MAC West Division, to qualify for the conference tourney for a fourth consecutive season. The Rockets also claimed their first division title in school history, equaling their best mark since the conference went to three-game series prior to the 2004 campaign. The Midnight Blue & Gold also finished 19-8 in the league during the 2010 season.
"Every weekend in the MAC is a dogfight, so to speak," Mee said. "I think our guys welcome the challenge of being the reigning division champion. We've worked hard to get to this position, and I hope our guys use it as motivation to continue to work hard so we can stay there. It's going to be an exciting spring. I'd be disappointed if we weren't in the mix at the end of the year, and I feel like we can be there if we continue to work hard."