Baseball Releases 2005 Schedule
Nov. 3, 2004
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- After having the top-rated non-conference schedule in the nation last season, the Arizona State University baseball program has set another challenging slate for the upcoming 2005 season announced Wednesday by 11th year head coach Pat Murphy.
Murphy has also announced that a majority of the home games that used to start at 7 p.m. will be moved up 30 minutes this season for a 6:30 p.m. start time.
'We think the 6:30 p.m. start time will benefit a lot of our fans who attend with their families and are often not able to see the end of our games,' said Murphy. 'We started at 6 p.m. when we played in Mesa in 2002 and had a lot of positive feedback from our season ticket base and feel the happy medium between the two will work out for everyone.'
ASU's 56-game regular-season schedule includes 28 games against teams that played in the 2004 NCAA Tournament and 35 games against teams that have competed in the Field of 64 in the last two seasons. The schedule also includes schools that have combined for 27 national championships and seven games against teams that played in the 2004 College World Series.
'The way the RPI and the selection process works, you have to plan a challenging schedule,' said Murphy. 'Last year we proved that we can plan that type of schedule and also play well against it. It is going to be a battle every weekend and that's the way our program wants to have it.'
A season-opening three-game series against perennial national power Long Beach State (Jan. 28-30) and home sets against Big XII powers Baylor (Feb. 25-27) and Oklahoma (Mar. 18-20) highlight the home portion of the non-conference schedule that will be played at Packard Stadium. Playing the fewest home games since 1998 (29), the Sun Devils have a trio of tough road trips, including a three-game series at Tulane (Feb. 18-20), a tournament at East Carolina against ECU, North Carolina and Ohio State (Mar. 4-6) and a trip to Baton Rouge, La., to renew a rivalry with five-time national champion LSU (Mar. 11-13). The trip to LSU also includes a pair of games against Western Illinois.
'There are some great teams that we will face on the road this season and I really think that will help us get ready for the postseason,' added Murphy. 'Any time you have a chance to go on the road early in the season and test your team against outstanding competition, it will help the team.'
In addition to a challenging non-conference schedule, the Sun Devils will have to battle through one of the toughest college baseball conferences in the nation, the Pac-10. Home conference series include Stanford (Apr. 15-17), UCLA (Apr. 22-24), Arizona (May 14-16) and Washington State (May 27-29). The Devils will travel to USC (Mar. 24-26) to open league play at Dedeaux Field and face California (Apr. 8-10) at Evans Diamond, Oregon State (Apr. 29 - May 1) at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field and Washington (May 20-22) at Husky Ballpark in Seattle. ASU will also travel to Tucson for a pair of non-conference games against the rival Wildcats on Feb. 15 (4 p.m.) and Feb. 23 (4 p.m.).
'The Pac-10 has been so balanced in recent years where any team can win on any given day,' said Murphy. 'Every school keeps getting better and continues to make our conference and West Coast baseball among the elite in the nation.'
Arizona State is coming off another stellar season in 2004 in which the Sun Devils were 41-18 and earned a national No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Devils have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five seasons and seven of the last eight seasons dating back to 1997. ASU has solidified its spot among the top collegiate programs in recent years, earning top-12 final rankings in four of the last eight seasons and has a current string of 97 straight weeks in the national polls.
Despite the loss of All-American shortstop Dustin Pedroia, the Sun Devils return 15 lettermen for the 2005 season. Seniors Jeff Larish (Tempe, Ariz.) and Jason Urquidez (Simi Valley, Calif.) return to the program after being selected in last June's MLB Amateur Draft. Larish is a career .337 hitter with 28 home runs and heads into the 2005 season as the NCAA's career active leader in RBI (168), runs scored (157) and walks (142). Urquidez was a first-team All-Pac-10 pitcher last season after going 12-3 with a 3.41 ERA.
'We have some quality players coming back to the program and the really helps solidify leadership and helps build a foundation for the program,' said Murphy. 'We still have a lot of youth that will be on the field and will help this program achieve its goals of winning a national championship.'
ASU also adds the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the nation that includes 12 freshmen, two junior college transfers and one senior transfer.
Following the season-opening series against LBSU, Arizona State will host the third annual Bob Schaefer Memorial Tournament at Packard Stadium. The eight-game tournament features New Mexico State, Oregon State and Gonzaga visiting Tempe during the first weekend of February.
After the Schaefer Tournament, the Sun Devils will again make the cross-Valley trek to Surprise, Ariz., for the third-annual Coca-Cola Spring Training Classic. ASU will be part of a tournament field that includes South Alabama, Oklahoma and Gonzaga. All games will be played at Surprise Stadium at the Surprise Recreation Campus, the spring training home of the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals.
'We are once again thrilled to being an exciting brand of college baseball to the West Valley,' commented Murphy. 'The City of Surprise welcomes us with open arms and hosts one of the best college baseball tournaments in the nation. The facilities and staff are first class.'
Sandwiched between a pair bus trips to Tucson to face Arizona in non-conference action will be a challenging road trip to Tulane (Feb. 18-20). ASU took two of three from the Green Wave last season at Packard Stadium, but a top recruiting class and one of the top pitching staffs in the nation will await the Sun Devils on their first trip to Turchin Stadium in New Orleans.
ASU and Arizona continue the recent tradition that has seen Arizona's only two Division I baseball programs meet in a pair of non-conference games. The team that does not host the Pac-10 series hosts the games that do not count in the conference standings. ASU won four of the five games last season and has won 16 of the last 20 over the Wildcats dating back to 2000.
'I think it is very important for the fans and for the players to play their rivals at home each season,' said Murphy. 'We have a great rivalry with Arizona and it creates a playoff-type atmosphere that really makes the game exciting. There is always a lot on the line when you face your rivals.'
After the trips to Tulane and Arizona, ASU returns home to the friendly confines of Packard Stadium to take on perennial Big XII power Baylor (Feb. 25-27). The Sun Devil nine will take back to the road for the Keith LeClair Invitational hosted by East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. (Mar. 4-6). ASU will face North Carolina, East Carolina and Ohio State in the three-day tournament that will help honor former ECU coach Keith LeClair who is currently battling Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The following weekend ASU will make its third cross-country flight to face LSU and Western Illinois at legendary Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. Making their first trip to LSU since 2000, the Sun Devils will play two games each against the Tigers (Mar. 11, Mar. 13) and the Leathernecks (Mar. 12-13).
'I think our team will benefit most from the trip to LSU,' commented Murphy. 'It is by far one of the best atmospheres in college baseball and really creates a lasting memory. We've wanted to go back and play LSU ever since our trip in 2000 and we are excited to get the opportunity.'
ASU's final non-conference tune-up before Pac-10 play will come with a three-game series against Oklahoma (Mar. 18-20) at Packard Stadium. The Sun Devils and Sooners continue a tradition that has seen the two schools meet in each of the last 11 seasons with the Sun Devils going 15-11 against OU.
The Sun Devils open Pac-10 play with a three-game series against the USC Trojans (Mar. 24-26). The series will be played Thursday through Saturday due to the Easter holiday.
Playing its first two conference series on the road at USC and California, ASU will then host Stanford (Apr. 15-17) and UCLA (Apr. 22-24) at Packard Stadium. The Sun Devils will complete league play with two of its last three series at home against Arizona (May 14-16) and Washington State (May 27-29).
Arizona State will wrap up the regular-season campaign with the Cougars and will hopefully follow that up with a fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Play begins June 3 with the NCAA Regionals while the Super Regionals will follow June 10-13. The 2005 College World Series is set to get underway June 17 and run through either June 26 or 27 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb. The CWS will once again feature the three-game championship series to determine the national champion.
2005 Schedule Highlights:
- 28 games vs. 2004 NCAA Tournament teams.- 35 games vs. teams that played in the NCAA Tournament in last two years.- Seven games vs. 2004 CWS teams.- 27 combined national championships from 2005 opponents.- 29 home games at Packard Stadium this season, marking fewest home games since 1998 (28).- 34 games in the state of Arizona (3 in Surprise, 2 in Tucson)- Pac-10 schedule that includes home series against Stanford, UCLA, Arizona and Washington State.- Games scheduled against first-time opponents Wright State, South Alabama, Western Illinois and Utah Valley State.- Latest regular season home series (Washington State - May 27-29) in school history.