TULSA, Okla. – Oral Roberts head baseball coach Ryan Folmar announced the team's 53-game schedule for the 2017 season featuring matchups with some of the nation's top teams as the Golden Eagles look to make their 27th NCAA tournament appearance in program history.
"First and foremost, it's another really good, challenging schedule inside our league and out, but I feel like it's one that if we can navigate through it, will make us better in the end," fifth-year head coach Folmar said. "It's also an exciting schedule when you look at some of the trips we have to some fairly unfamiliar places. We go to Alabama for the second time and have a chance to see their new ballpark then we go up to Minnesota and play a fun event in their new stadium."
ORU will get non-conference tests against three teams that reached the NCAA tournament a season ago, including Oklahoma State, a College World Series participant, Minnesota and Dallas Baptist. In total, the schedule features seven teams that ended the 2016 campaign ranked in the nation's top 85 by RPI.
The season gets underway with a four-game homestand as the Golden Eagles host Little Rock for a three-game set Feb. 17-19 before a mid-week matchup against Missouri State Feb. 21 at J.L. Johnson Stadium. The experience playing at home will be critical as the action heats up when ORU travels to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for three games against the Crimson Tide followed by a non-conference contest at Kansas.
The early-season road stretch continues with a remarkable opportunity to play in a premiere professional venue in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings during the return of the Dairy Queen Classic. ORU will face defending Big 10 regular season champion and host Golden Gophers March 3 before the program's first-ever meetings against Iowa (March 4) and Hawaii (March 5).
"The tournament in Minnesota is special for a couple reasons. I'm looking forward to playing indoors, which is something I've never been a part of, and having the chance to play in a venue that is brand new. Then you get to play against three really good clubs and that adds to the mystique of the event."
Despite returning home for the next 12 games, the competition does not get any easier for the Golden Eagles as Dallas Baptist makes the trip for a three-game series. Back-to-back mid-weeks games under the lights against Pacific and Kansas March 14-15 are the final tune-ups heading into league play. ORU will defend its regular season title in The Summit League starting March 17-19 by hosting North Dakota State.
"It's going to be an exciting March with three weekends encompassing league play and those are extremely important to make sure we get going in the right direction," Folmar stated. "Then you look at the opposite of that as we are going to have some tough road trips late in the year and some long trips in there to South Dakota State and North Dakota State."
Home-and-home series against in-state rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as well as perennial power Wichita State highlight the remaining nonconference games for ORU in 2017. Down the stretch, the Golden Eagles will be challenged with 19 of their final 30 games away from home, including a seven-game span from April 14-23.
"Our mid-week games are again, very good. With all the local people that we have an opportunity to keep on the schedule, it makes for some difficult games, but ones that are fun for everyone," Folmar added.
The regular season comes to a close on the road as the Golden Eagles travel to Macomb, Illinois to take on the Fighting Leathernecks May 18-20.
As defending Summit League champions, ORU is set to host the four-team conference tournament slated for May 24-27 at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
For the latest information on ORU Baseball, follow the Golden Eagles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Golden Eagles Front Row App at ORUAthletics.com/frontrow or in the App Store.