More than half of the games on the State slate (31) are against teams that advanced to the 64-team field of the NCAA Baseball Tournament --- non-conference opponents Fresno State, Purdue and Samford and Southeastern Conference rivals Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
"It's a very challenging schedule, with games against teams that have won four of the last five national championships," said head coach John Cohen. "It's important to us that our kids don't miss a lot of class and that we provide the best season ticket opportunity for our fans. Playing so many games in a short period of time early in the season is also going to really test our pitching staff."
Mississippi State opens its 123rd season of baseball with a four-game weekend series against first-time foe Portland (Feb. 15-17). During a season-opening 20-game homestand MSU also meets three other opponents for the first time --- Fresno State, Grambling State and St. Joseph's, in addition to past opponents Central Arkansas, Mississippi Valley State and New Orleans. Later in the season MSU hosts single non-conference contests with Alcorn State and yet another first-time opponent, McNeese State.
The Bulldogs' rugged 30-game SEC schedule features three-game home conference series against Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU and South Carolina and road matchups against league foes Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, SEC newcomer Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The MSU-Auburn series (Apr. 19-21) at Dudy Noble Field will serve as one of the centerpieces for Mississippi State's annual spring homecoming celebration, Super Bulldog Weekend.
Dudy Noble Field hosts a pair of three-team, double round-robin tournament-style events this spring. State faces 2012 NCAA tourney teams Purdue and Samford (Feb. 22-24) and later welcomes Central Arkansas and 2012 NCAA tournament entrant Fresno State to campus (Mar. 8-10) for a similar six-game, three-day event.
State plays a pair of games neutral site games and is the designated visiting team in games against Southern Miss (Mar. 12) and Ole Miss (Apr. 9) at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. MSU hits the road for two other non-conference games with a game in Mobile, Ala., against South Alabama (Apr. 2) and at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tenn., against the University of Memphis (Apr. 23).
Mississippi State returns 24 letter-winners from the 2012 edition that posted a 40-24 record, won the 2012 SEC baseball tournament and advanced to the program's 32nd appearance in NCAA postseason competition. Included among the returnees are eight of nine starting position players and 13 of the 19 pitchers that combined for the nation's second-best staff earned run average in 2012, an SEC-leading 2.58.