STARKVILLE, Miss. - A record-tying 35 games at Dudy Noble Field and 26 contests against teams that competed in the 2010 NCAA Baseball Tournament are included in the 2011 Mississippi State University baseball schedule announced this week by third-year MSU head baseball coach John Cohen.
The Diamond Dogs open their 120th season of baseball Feb. 18-20 hosting Akron and Lamar in the first of two early-season weekend tournaments at Dudy Noble Field. Two weeks later State entertains Iowa and Georgia State Mar. 4-6 in a similar three-day, six-game tournament.
State plays its first 14 and 18 of its first 19 games at Dudy Noble Field and hosts Southeastern Conference foes Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU and South Carolina in three-game weekend series.
"We are fortunate that we're playing as many home games for our fans," said Cohen. "Playing so many home games early in the season is good for a couple of reasons --- it means our players won't be missing a lot of class and it gives a lot of young players an opportunity to play early in the season."
Mississippi State's 2003 baseball schedule featured a then-record 35 home games.
The 2011 schedule includes home series against 2010 national champion South Carolina (Apr. 22-24) and another NCAA College World Series entrant, Florida (Apr. 8-10 ---Super Bulldog Weekend). State also hosts a third team that reached NCAA Super Regional competition, Alabama (Apr. 29-May 1) and SEC West rival Auburn (Mar. 25-27), one of nine MSU opponents that advanced to the 64-team field of the 2010 NCAA Baseball Tournament.
The Bulldogs will play a pair of games at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., serving as the designated visiting team in neutral site matchups with Southern Miss (Apr. 5) and Ole Miss (Apr. 19).
State's slate of baseball games includes nine home games against first-time foes --- Akron, Alabama A&M, Belmont and Sacred Heart University. Other non-conference home opponents include Alcorn State, Eastern Illinois, Mississippi Valley State and Northwestern State.
In addition to SEC opponents Arkansas, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, Mississippi State has road dates against non-conference opponents Lipscomb, Memphis, South Alabama and UAB.
State's regular season-ending series against LSU (May 19-21) is a Thursday through Saturday series in advance of the 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament scheduled May 25-29 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.