Head coach Rod Delmonico announced the 2002 baseball schedule for the Tennessee Volunteers, which could be one of the toughest slates in recent memory.
The Vols will play 27 games against 10 teams that made the NCAA tournament last season, including a season-opening three-game series against the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes in Miami, Feb. 1-3. The Hurricanes defeated Tennessee twice in th
e 2001 College World Series en route to the title. They will make a return trip to Knoxville in 2003.
Following the trip to Miami, the Vols then head to Tempe, Ariz., for three games against perennial power Arizona State, Feb. 8-10. The Vols and Sun Devils split a pair of games in Knoxville last season.
Tennessee will also be making its second-ever trip to the Hormel Foods Classic hosted by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn., Mar. 1-3. The Vols, who last played in the Metrodome in 1996, will face Alabama, Florida Atlantic and Minnesota in
the Classic. "The preseason portion of the schedule could be as tough as any we've ever faced since I've been here," said head coach Rod Delmonico.
"Playing the defending national champions on their field and then facing one of the Pac-10's top teams will be a challenge for a young team to start the season. We have some challenges in the schedule early which should make us a better team by the time r
egionals roll around."
The Vols will open their 33-game home schedule against the first of two Mid-American Conference teams in Bowling Green, Feb. 15-17, before facing Eastern Michigan the next weekend, Feb. 22-24. They open the Southeastern Conference portion of the slate Mar
ch 15-17 at Alabama. Other conference road tilts include trips to Georgia (March 29-31), Arkansas (April 19-21), Mississippi (April 26-28) and South Carolina (May 10-12).
Tennessee will face league rivals Auburn (March 22-24), Kentucky (April 5-7), Florida (April 12-14), LSU (May 3-5) and Vanderbilt (May 17-19) at home. The non-conference portion of the schedule includes games against Morehead State (March 5-6), UNC-Ashevi
lle (March 8-10), Cincinnati (March 19-20), East Tennessee State (Apr. 3 & Apr. 17), Western Carolina (April 23) and Tennessee Tech (April 24 & May 15).
The SEC Tournament will be at the Hoover Met Stadium in Hoover, Ala., Mar. 22-26, with NCAA Regionals, May 31-June 2, and Super Regionals, June 7-9, to follow the next two weekends before the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., June 14-22.