By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor softball shocked No. 2 seed University of Arizona last year in the Super Regionals to advance to the College World Series. After announcing its 2018 slate on Monday, the Bears will have a challenging hill to climb if they want to make a repeat trip this season.
Baylor’s schedule features 21 games against teams who made the NCAA Tournament in 2017, including four national seeds and both teams that competed in the World Series Championship Series.
Not only will the schedule feature some of the nation’s elite programs in Florida, LSU, Alabama and Big 12 rival and back-to-back College World Series champion Oklahoma, the schedule will send the Bears to both coasts and keep them on the road most of the year as they will only play 18 games at Getterman Stadium.
Baylor head coach Glenn Moore, who tallied his 800th career win in 2017, said the challenging schedule is important because not only does it force his team to elevate their play throughout the year, but it also helps prepare them for conference play and for a chance to not only make the tournament but also to host it.
“Each year our challenge is to put together a schedule that will do three things – one, make us better; two, prepare us for Big 12 play; and three, give us a chance to host the first round of the NCAA Tournament,” Moore said in a press release. “This schedule will accomplish all three of those goals.”
Baylor opens its season with a three-game series at home against Northwestern State on Feb. 9 and 10. After that they head to Hattiesburg, Miss. for the Southern Miss Tournament Feb 16-18. In the tournament, Baylor could face McNeese State and No. 16 seed Alabama.
The Bears will host the Baylor Invitational against Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian and Jackson State Feb 23-25 before returning to Fullerton, Calif. to participate in the Judi Garman Classic on March 2-4. Baylor will face Iowa, Michigan, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and national runner-up Florida.
Last year in the Judi Garman Classic, Baylor earned victories over Washington, Michigan, UCLA and Arizona State, all teams that made the NCAA Tournament.
After a date with Long Beach State, Baylor will fly to the East Coast to participate in the Liberty University Tournament March 9-11. There the Bears will face Liberty, Delaware and Ohio University.
After a two-game home set with Texas State on March 14 and North Texas on March 20, Baylor will head to Baton Rouge, La. to participate in the LSU tournament where it will face three more 2017 tournament teams, North Dakota State, BYU and LSU.
Baylor will then open Big 12 play with two time defending national champion Oklahoma March 29-31 at Getterman Stadium.
Baylor has a split series with Texas, playing in Austin on April 17 before hosting the Longhorns May 5 and 6. The Bears will also make the trip to Stillwater, Okla. on April 13-15 to take on Oklahoma State. Texas and Oklahoma State both made the NCAA tournament in 2017.
Baylor will host Kansas April 20-22 and will make road trips to Texas Tech and Iowa State in conference in April as well as trips to Houston and Abilene Christian in April.
The Bears will a host a two-game set with McNeese State on April 10 and 11. This series will serve as a homecoming for former volunteer assistant coach Dani Price, who is now the recruiting coordinator for McNeese State.
Baylor has a full fall schedule to help it prepare for the spring. The Bears will take on McLennan Community College at 5 p.m. Thursday, before playing a doubleheader with Texas A&M Commerce at 2 p.m. Saturday. Baylor will take on MCC again on Oct. 18 before wrapping up the fall slate against LSU in the Woodlands on Oct. 21.