Sept. 27, 2006
WACO, Texas -- Baylor baseball head coach Steve Smith announced the Bears' 2007 schedule Wednesday. The 56-game regular season slate includes 34 games at Baylor Ballpark, including the second-annual Quala-T Imprints Baylor Classic.
The Bears are known for consistently playing one of the nation's toughest schedules, and 2007 is no different. Baylor's schedule features 36 games (64.3 percent of schedule) against 13 opponents (59.1 percent of opponents) who participated in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The Bears play 22 games (34.3 percent) against eight opponents (36.4 percent) who finished the 2006 season ranked in the Baseball America Top 25.
From March 27 to April 22, Baylor plays 16 consecutive games against teams who participated in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. At no point in the season will the Bears go more than five games without facing such an opponent. Of Baylor's 20 games prior to the start of Big 12 Conference play, 14 are at Baylor Ballpark.
"This is a challenging schedule, as our schedule usually is," Smith said. "Our fans will have plenty of chances to see us play top competition, both in and out of conference. Hopefully playing a lot of home games - and a lot early - will help our younger players get acclimated to the program and to college ball in a familiar environment."
For the fourth time since 2001, Baylor opens its season at the Minute Maid Park Astros College Classic in Houston. The Bears face Houston, Rice and Vanderbilt, respectively, Feb. 9-11. Baylor is 7-5 all-time at the Astros Classic, including a 3-0 mark in its last visit (2005).
Baylor's home opener is Feb. 13 against Texas State. The Bears host Stephen F. Austin in their first weekend home series Feb. 16-18. Baylor also welcomes Oral Roberts to Baylor Ballpark the following weekend.
The Bears' final two weekends of non-conference play are round-robin tournaments. Baylor faces San Francisco, host Pacific and San Diego State at the Pacific Invitational (March 2-4). The Bears then host San Francisco, Mississippi State and Winthrop at Baylor Ballpark for the Quala-T Imprints Baylor Classic (March 9-11).
Big 12 play begins the weekend of March 16-18 with the annual split-series against Texas; the Bears and the Longhorns meet Friday at Austin before the series shifts to Baylor Ballpark for the Saturday and Sunday contests. Baylor's split series against Texas A&M is April 27-29 with the Bears hosting the Friday game.
Other Big 12 schools visiting Waco this season are Texas Tech (March 23-25), Oklahoma (April 5-7), Missouri (April 20-22) and Kansas State (May 18-20). The Oklahoma series, which falls on Easter weekend, is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday. Baylor travels to Oklahoma State (March 30-April 1), Kansas (April 13-15) and Nebraska (May 11-13) this season in Big 12 play.
Last season, Baylor's strength of schedule ranked 10th nationally; the Bears joined Georgia (eighth) as the only teams in the top 10 not from the state of California. Baylor's strength of schedule has ranked 11th or better nationally in each of the past six seasons: seventh in 2005, 11th in 2004, fifth in 2003, seventh in 2002 and 10th in 2001.
Baylor's cumulative strength of schedule over the past 10 years ranked ninth nationally, according to research by Boyd Nation of BoydsWorld.com. Southern California was deemed to have played the toughest 10-year schedule, followed by UCLA, Stanford, California, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, Texas and Baylor.
Baylor returns 18 letterwinners, five starters and eight pitchers from a 2006 squad that posted a 37-26 record and reached the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in nine years.