Nov. 21, 2006
(San Francisco, CA) - Building on the two most successful seasons in USF Baseball History, Head Coach Nino Giarratano scheduled another difficult season of opponents meant to challenge his team and increase exposure for the program. The Second Annual Dante Benedetti Classic is scheduled for April 6th vs. Santa Clara. Game time at AT&T Park is set for Noon, preceding the Giants vs. LA Dodgers game that night.
The Dons will play 28 games against teams from some of the biggest baseball conferences in the nation (Pac-10, SEC, Big XII, WAC, and Big West).
Giarratano commented on the schedule. "Not only can our schedule provide us with great competition throughout the year, but there are many opportunities to build our RPI and give us a chance to get another Regional type bid."
One of the highlights of the schedule includes three games versus Oregon State (March 16-18 in Corvallis, OR), the defending National Champion. In 2006 the Dons beat the eventual champions 8-2 in their only meeting of the year.
The Dons made their first NCAA Regional appearance in 2006, and continue with the "Regional Theme" on their 2007 schedule. The Dons will play eight teams and 18 games against 2006 Regional Teams. Seven of their 2007 opponents were in the Top 25 last year, including four that had appearances in the Top 15.
The Diamond Dons will participate in three national tournaments in 2007. On February 23rd and 24th, the Dons will play in the River City Classic at Sacramento State. Other teams participating are Sacramento State, Oregon State, Saint Mary's, and UC Davis. The second tournament will be the first week of March at the University of Pacific. Games included in Stockton are against national power Baylor, and versus Tony Gwynn and the Aztecs of San Diego State. The last national tournament the Dons will participate in is the Baylor Baseball Tournament from March 9th to March 11th with Baylor, Winthrop and Mississippi State. Including USF, all four Baylor Tournament teams were in the Top 25 last year.
Though the tournaments will increase national exposure, the Diamond Dons have a very local feeling to their schedule as well. Forty-five of the 56 games will be played in California, including 25 games at Benedetti Diamond where the Dons have been 36-8 during the last two seasons.
Conference play begins on March 30-April 1 when USF visits Loyola Marymount. The Dons will host Santa Clara (April 5-7), Pepperdine (April 13-15), Gonzaga (April 27-29), and Saint Mary's (May 11-13). Besides the trip to LMU, USF will travel to Portland (April 20-22), and San Diego (May 4-6). The WCC Championships will be held May 25-27.
Giarratano spoke on the strength of the West Coast Conference. "The conference improves every year and the teams are getting stronger and stronger. When we switched to 21 games, it became a quick conference race and you have to have good weekends every weekend. You can never count Pepperdine out, with as many championships they have won and how well they have played every year, inside and out of the conference. I think San Diego was a wonderful team last year and they have most all their pitching back. I think USF is extremely improved from where we were last year at this time and I think we'll be very competitive. I look for the same four or five teams to be competing for the championship. It'd be nice to say it's a two team race, but it never will be."