(Photo credit to Grant Cohen)

Debuting their first season in the American Athletic Conference, Wichita State is looking for more than just a solid showing in the number four rated conference in college baseball.

The Shockers announced their regular season schedule on Friday, featuring 17 games that feature opponents who made the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Utilizing higher RPI games, Wichita State is looking to use their schedule to help them earn their first bid into the NCAA Tournament since 2009 (the 2013 appearance was vacated by the NCAA).

“The 2018 Shocker Baseball schedule will be one of the most challenging in the history of the program with the change to the American Athletic Conference, which was the No. 4 ranked conference in college baseball in 2017,” Wichita State coach Todd Butler said in a release. “The Shockers will now travel south to states such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, and northeast to Connecticut and Ohio.

“One of the advantages of the American Athletic Conference will be the high ranking RPI and strength of schedules throughout the league.”

Wichita State opens up the season at McNeese State, where Butler was the head coach from 2001-2003, for their first three-game series. The first true test for the Shockers will be a three-game homestand against Nebraska, on March 2-4.

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Nebraska beat the Shockers two games out of three in 2016 in Lincoln and are coming off a 2017 Big Ten regular-season championship. The Huskers qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, losing two consecutive games to Yale and Holy Cross in the Corvallis Regional.

In addition to playing a home-and-home with 2017 NCAA Tournament team Oral Roberts, the Shockers travel to Omaha on March 16-18 with their former Missouri Valley Conference rival Creighton. The Shockers also play one game against Oklahoma and have a home-and-home with Oklahoma State.

The Shockers open up play in the American in Greenville, North Carolina against East Carolina on March 29-31. Having 28 NCAA Tournament appearances, East Carolina finished eighth in the American in the 2017 regular season. The Pirates managed to make it all the way to the conference championship game, where they fell to Houston 6-0.

Tulane is the first conference opponent to make the trip to Wichita on April 6-8 and are followed by UConn April 13-15. Home-and-homes with Central Arkansas, Kansas, K-State and a home game with South Dakota State round out the non-conference schedule for the Shockers, who travel on the road to NCAA Tournament participants Houston and UCF for three-game road trips.

Wichita State returns home in conference play for three games against Cincinnati on May 4-6 and cap off the regular season conference homestand with USF, the American’s regular-season champion in 2017, May 11-13. The Shockers end the regular season with a three-game series at Memphis on May 17-19.

“Shocker fans will also have the opportunity to see four projected first-round draft picks from The American here in Wichita including left-handed pitcher Shane McClanahan from USF and left-handed pitcher Tim Cate from UConn, along with Shocker third baseman Alec Bohm and outfielder Greyson Jenista,” Butler said in the release.

The Shockers are looking for their first winning season since 2014. Wichita State started the season 7-0 before finishing with a 21-30 record in 2017. The Shockers return eight batters from last season’s lineup and return a majority of their pitching staff.

Season tickets for the 32 home games are now available at goshockers.com or by calling the WSU Ticket Office at (316) 978-FANS. A special 10-game punch card will be offered this season, which allows fans to choose 10 games they attend in 2018 and prices are $79 for field box, $59 for outfield/concourse and $49 for bleacher/GA.

Grant Cohen

Scout with CBBSN. Wichita State.

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