COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A tough road lies ahead for the
Tennessee Tech baseball team as the it looks to mimic last year's
program record 40 wins. The 36th ranked Golden Eagles unveiled
their 2014 regular season schedule and among the highlights include
four games against major conference opponents and seven contests
against teams that competed in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Five of Tech's 2014 opponents earned spots or received votes in
this year's preseason pole, including last season's SEC regular
season champion, Vanderbilt. The Commodores, who are ranked ninth
to start the 2014 season, were 54-12 last season and ranked as high
as No. 1 overall. The Golden Eagles pulled off the biggest upset in
school history last season, beating the then-No. 2 ranked Vandy
team in Nashville. Tech will return to the Music City for this
year's rematch on March 4.
Two other SEC opponents that will take on the Golden Eagles
received votes in the preseason poll, inlcuding Tennessee and
Kentucky. Tech will actually play host to the Volunteers on April
8, marking the first time since 2008 that an SEC team will make the
trip to Cookeville. The Golden Eagles defeated Tennessee in that
last match-up, 9-7. The Tech squad will also travel north for an
April 22 contest with the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington.
Among Tech's 2014 foes also receiving votes in the preseason
poll are Ohio Valley Conference and in-state rival Austin Peay and
regional rival South Alabama. Both teams participated in last
year's NCAA Tournament, having won their respective conference
tournaments. Austin Peay finished 47-15 while South Alabama wrapped
up 2014 at 43-20. Tech opens the year with a three-game set at
South Alabama, February 14-16. They won't see the Governors until
April 4-6 when Austin Peay comes to Bush Stadium at the Averitt
Express Baseball Complex.
"We're excited to be opening up at South Alabama," said head
coach Matt Bragga. "They're an NCAA regional team from last year
and won 40-plus games. They'll be a great team and perennially have
been a very good program. That will be a fun trip for us and we're
really excited to go down there to start our year."
Following the season opening series is a February 18 contest at
in-state foe Middle Tennessee. Tech will travel to Murfreesboro for
the first game of a home-and-home series before hosting the Blue
Raiders on April 9.
Next for Tech marks the season's home-opener, a four-game series
against NYIT (New York Institute of Technology). The two schools
will play Feb. 21-23 with a double-header scheduled for the 22nd.
The four-game period is also a part of Tech's longest homestand of
the year as the Golden Eagles will host eight consecutive
"We've never played NYIT before," Bragga explained, "so we're
excited to get them down here and play some ball on our own field.
That will be our home-opening series after starting with four games
on the road and we always count down the days to when we can get
back to work on our home field."
The next opponent on tab will also see the Golden Eagles four
times in 2014, however, will only play one game on Feb. 25.
In-state rival Lipscomb will then host Tech on May 2 and 3 before
the Golden Eagles return to Cookeville for the fourth contest on
May 4. Also part of the long home slate is a visit from Big Ten
member Northwestern, which will make its visit from Feb. 28 to
"Northwestern will be a good challenge for us," added Bragga.
"It marks the second straight year we've played a Big Ten opponent.
Last year we hosted by Michigan State and Illinois and I think
those games are always fun for our guys."
After the trip to Vanderbilt, the Tech squad returns to open OVC
play, hosting Eastern Kentucky from March 7-9. Other home dates for
league play include March 21-23 against UT Martin, April 4-6
against the reigning OVC Tournament Champs, Austin Peay, April
18-20 against Jacksonville State, and May 9-11 against Southeast
Tech will hit the road for OVC trips at Morehead State (March
14-16), SIUE (March 28-30), Eastern Illinois (April 11-13), Murray
State (April 25-27), and the season-ending series at Belmont (May
"The conference schedule is also good," Bragga said. "It's
always a challenge. And it's always fun. Our guys enjoy our entire
schedule, but there's just something about conference play that
these guys tend to enjoy just a little bit more."
"We won 24 of our 30 games in conference play last year, which
is fantastic," Bragga explained. "That's not something we
necessarily set a goal to do. We just try to beat the game of
baseball and minimize the errors and mistakes that lead to losses.
We always have the goal of winning an OVC Championship, but not
necessarily a specific number of games that that will take. We have
a good club and we expect to have another good year. We certainly
expect a challenge, but we also expect a lot out of our team and
our coaching staff."
Two other road trips are on tab for the Tech squad, including a
single game at UNC Asheville on March 11 and a single contest at
Alabama A&M on April 1. Tech will host Alabama A&M just two
weeks later on April 15 as part of the home-and-home series. The
Golden Eagles also play host to Berea on March 12 and Miami (OH)
from March 25-26.
"It's a good schedule overall," said Bragga. "Playing Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Vanderbilt will be good tests for our program and
just add to the strength of our slate this season. We want to
compete nationally year-in and year-out and we feel that this
schedule will allow us to do that. Our guys understand that if
we're going to compete at the highest level of college baseball,
these are the teams that you have to be able to not just compete
against, but you have to be able to beat."
"We look forward to our schedule," added Bragga. "Our coaching
staff works hard to put together a good schedule that is both
challenging and fun for our guys. Simply put, if we play good
baseball, we'll have a good year. We're excited and ready to start
having some fun."
Admission to all of TTU's home games in Bush Stadium at the
Averitt Baseball Complex is free of charge. Game days and start
times are subject to change.