The Valparaiso University baseball team has revealed its schedule for the 2018 season, the program’s first year of competition in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The season will begin against an SEC opponent as the Crusaders head to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide in a three-game series from Feb. 16-18. That will mark the first-ever meetings between the two teams. Valpo will then venture to Norman, Okla. from Feb. 23-25 for four games, two each against Oklahoma and Holy Cross.
Valpo starts its annual spring trip with four games in Phoenix, Ariz. from March 2-4, two each against Cal State Northridge and Grand Canyon. That will be followed by two games at UC Riverside (March 6-7), a three-game series at Loyola Marymount (March 9-11) and three games at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (March 16-17).
Grand Canyon, Loyola Marymount, UC Riverside and Arkansas Pine Bluff are all first-time opponents for the Crusaders. Valpo has played three games against Holy Cross, two games against Oklahoma and four against Cal State Northridge.
The early-season schedule features numerous high-level opponents that will help the Crusaders prepare for the first season of Valpo in The Valley. Oklahoma went 35-24 and reached the NCAA Regional last season, Holy Cross made an NCAA Regional appearance after winning the Patriot League, Loyola Marymount finished at 38-18 and Grand Canyon posted a 20-4 record in the Western Athletic Conference. Grand Canyon is entering its first season eligible for the NCAA postseason after transitioning to Division I.
The Crusaders will face another WAC opponent on March 20 as they look to continue their recent head-to-head success with Chicago State. That game will take place in Chicago before the Cougars make a return visit to Emory G. Bauer Field during the final week of the regular season.
Valpo will hook up with rival Butler for the first time since 2014 with a three-game set in Indianapolis March 23-25 against a Bulldogs team that went 31-20 a year ago. After the March 27 home opener against Ball State and a March 28 visit to Purdue, Valpo will begin Valley play with its first-ever MVC series by hosting Bradley from March 30 to April 1.
The Crusaders have a favorable conference schedule with four of the seven series taking place at Emory G. Bauer Field, including home sets with a pair of teams who reached the NCAA Regional a year ago – defending MVC regular season champion Missouri State (May 4-6) and defending MVC Tournament champion Dallas Baptist (April 27-29). The fourth home conference series will come to close the regular season, May 27-29 against Indiana State.
Valpo will make conference trips to Southern Illinois (April 6-8), Evansville (April 20-22) and Illinois State (May 11-13). Sprinkled in the midst of the conference season will be a nonconference trip to Big Ten foe Michigan State (April 13-15). Valpo will have three Big Ten opponents on the slate this season, as it also has a midweek date with Illinois on April 17 in Champagne.
The remainder of Valpo’s midweek slate includes usual suspects Western Michigan (April 3 and May 8), Northern Illinois (May 1) and Notre Dame (April 24), plus a nonconference meeting with Milwaukee on April 11 at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Valpo finished the 2017 season on a high note, winning eight of its last 11 regular season games. The bulk of the team returns after losing just five seniors to graduation last spring.