Ohio State released the 2015 baseball schedule on Wednesday afternoon, and the Buckeyes are taking a slightly different approach than in years past.
"Once again I feel that we have put together a schedule that will allow us to compete nationally," head coach Greg Beals said in a release from the Athletic Department. "With this strength of schedule, if we win our share of games, it will put us in position to represent The Ohio State University in the national tournament. Pre-conference we have concentrated more on the three-game series as opposed to the tournament format we have done in the past. These opponents will all be returning to Columbus in the future."
The baseball Bucks will once again be opening the season with the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida, facing Pittsburgh in the opener on February 13th. George Mason and fellow Big Ten club Iowa are also on the opening slate.
Ohio State will play its first twelve games down south, following up the Snowbird Classic with three-game series against Florida Atlantic, Alabama-Birmingham, and Western Kentucky. The home opener at Bill Davis Stadium will take place March 10th against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and kicks off an 11-game homestand.
The Buckeyes will be facing off against seven teams that went to the postseason last year, including George Mason, Louisville, Kent State, and UNLV. Conference opponents Indiana, Nebraska, and Maryland are also on that list.
The schedule announcement comes on the heels of fall practice and a busy summer. Several Buckeyes had strong summer league seasons, and optimism is high around the program. Seniors Pat Porter and Trace Dempsey were joined by sophomores Ronnie Dawson, Travis Lakins, and Troy Montgomery in being named to the postseason all-star teams in their respective summer leagues.
Trying to shake off a down year in 2014, Porter hit .324 with 15 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 63 RBI, and 53 runs scored in 70 games for the Kenosha Kingfish of the Northwoods League. The left-handed hitting right fielder was named to the summer collegiate All-American first team by Perfect Game.
Dawson also garnered summer All-American honors, being named to the third team by Perfect Game after batting .303 with 11 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 44 RBI, 45 runs scored 32 walks, and 17 stolen bases in 57 games for the Chillicothe Paints of the Prospect League. The lefty outfielder led the league in home runs, and was second in both RBIs and runs scored, en route to being named the Mike Schmidt Player of the Year and the Roland Hemond Pro Prospect of the Year.
Dawson was a third team All-Big Ten selection and member of the freshman All-Big Ten team this past season, but has his sights set on bigger things.
"It's a great honor to achieve, but I'm not satisfied," Dawson said in an Athletic Department interview. "I'm working hard every day to improve my game whether it is in the weight room, on the field, or in the cages. The ultimate goal is to help this team win a Big Ten championship."
The Big Ten Tournament is set for May 21-24 at Target Field in Minneapolis, and after an encouraging summer from several players, Ohio State is optimistic that it will be making the trip.
"We had a great summer," Beals said. "Everyone is excited to be back."