CCU baseball faces tough road to defend national title

ccubase-trophyCoastal Carolina head baseball coach Gary Gilmore released the Chanticleers’ 2017 schedule and the 2016 NCAA Division I College World Series Champion will play 34 home games, face 16 teams that finished among the NCAA top 100 in the RPI and host five league series in its inaugural season in the Sun Belt Conference.

Coastal will open the season Feb. 17-20 with the 18th annual Caravelle Resort’s Baseball at the Beach. The field includes Western Carolina, St. John’s, North Carolina A&T and James Madison. On Feb. 18 (Saturday), Coastal will host Western Carolina at 2 pm. Prior to the game, the University will recognize the 2016 NCAA Champions with a ring ceremony and celebration.

“I was speechless when we returned from Omaha to see the thousands of fans waiting for us at the airport,” Gilmore said. “I was also blown away with the tremendous crowds that showed up for the parade through Conway and the reception at Springs Brooks Stadium the following day.

“This year’s opening weekend, and the Western Carolina game in particular, will be a major stepping stone as we continue build this program to consistently stay at the elite level. It is my sincerest hope that we pack Springs Brooks Stadium to the limit to make a statement nationally in defense of our national championship while celebrating last year’s team for pride they brought to this University, community and state.”

Coastal will also host its annual Caravelle Resort Tournament (Feb. 24-27) with George Mason, Ball State and West Virginia and the inaugural Tidelands Health Classic (Mar. 3-5) with Albany, San Francisco and rival Winthrop.

Other key home games include Illinois and rivals College of Charleston and UNC Wilmington as well as Sun Belt conference series with  Arkansas State, NCAA Regional host Louisiana Lafayette, Georgia Southern, Troy and Appalachian State, who CCU defeated in the 2016 season opener to start its championship run.

The Chants will also play at College of Charleston, UNC Wilmington and The Citadel as well as make trips to three ACC members – North Carolina, Wake Forest and Clemson. Conference road series include trips to Texas State to open league play, Georgia State, South Alabama, Louisiana Monroe and UT Arlington. Noticeably absent is a previously scheduled meeting with South Carolina. The Gamecocks reportedly withdrew from a two-year deal to play the Chants.

The 2017 Sun Belt Championship will be held May 23-28 at J.I. Clements Stadium on the campus of Georgia Southern University.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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