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LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—Trips to the Palmetto State, the Tar Heel State and to the Commonwealth and a return to the Liberty Bell Classic highlight the 2016 Rider University baseball schedule. “This schedule might not appear to have many ‘big names’ on it but with our young team this year if we don’t play well we won’t do well,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis, the 2015 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. ‘This is a solid schedule.”
The 2016 season begins February 26-28 in South Carolina with games at Wofford and at USC Upstate, with a neutral site game against UNC Asheville in a combined tournament, with six teams playing at two sites in Spartanburg. “It is a good first weekend for us,” Davis said. “It will give us a good feel for who we are.”
USC Upstate of the Atlantic Sun Conference has been to the NCAA Regionals the last three years, while Wofford won 39 games last season in the Southern Conference. UNC Asheville is in the Big South Conference. “We’re playing against three quality southern leagues,” Davis said.
Rider and Lafayette will again attempt to play at Diamond Nation in Flemington, NJ. The two teams began playing there in early March in 2010 but the last couple of years the game was postponed due to weather.
Rider will travel to Gardner-Webb for a four-game series the first weekend of March. “The four game-series early will give us a chance to use our four starters and try to see who will be our weekend starters this season,” Davis said. The Broncs split with Gardner-Webb in 2014 and lost a three game series there in 2009.
Spring Break will be spent in North Carolina at High Point (three-game series) and Campbell (two game series) and at VMI (three-game series). “This is the first time since 2012 that the schedule has allowed us to take one long trip for Spring Break, not having to come back early for conference games,” Davis said.
The home opener is March 23 against Rutgers. “We play 16 games on the road against quality competition before the home opener,” Davis said. “We will be tested.”
The MAAC season begins with a three-game series at Monmouth March 25-26. “That should be interesting, it’s a tough first draw on the road,” Davis said of his series with the intrastate conference rival. “It would be a really big plus for us to play well against a top MAAC team.”
Rider will attempt to defend its 2015 Liberty Bell Classic Championship with a pair of home games, against La Salle March 29 and either Lehigh or Delaware April 5. “That was a great experience for us last year,” Davis said. “This year we get two home games out of it, opposed to two road games last year. It would be fun to get back to the championship game.”
The Classic Title Game, played at Citizen’s Bank Park, home of the Phila. Phillies, is April 26.
The weekend of April 8-10 the Broncs are off from MAAC play so Rider will host Northeast Conference Champion and NCAA Tournament participant Sacred Heart for a three-game series.
Rider travels to Niagara April 23-24 and for the first time will play on the campus field.
The last two MAAC series, Marist May 14-15 and Saint Peter’s May 19-20, are at home. “If you do your work the first six weekends, the first 18 conference games, and you have 10 or more MAAC wins, then you should be in control of your own fate the last two weekends at home,” Davis said.
The six-team MAAC Championship Tournament returns to Fishkill, NY May 25-29.