HARRISONBURG, Va., Oct. 28, 2010 - James Madison baseball head coach Spanky McFarland on Thursday unveiled a 2011 schedule that is highlighted by 30 home games, including 14 at night, five games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams, and a return to playing series against all 10 Colonial Athletic Association teams in league play.
"We wanted to have more home games because we didn't have that many last year, not knowing if the facility was going to be done on time and having the snow," said head coach Spank McFarland who is entering his 14th season with the Dukes. "It's a little bit lighter schedule this year, in other words we're not starting the season off playing several ranked teams down South. We'll start at home and stay at home for awhile. Hopefully, weather-permitting, we'll gain some confidence."
The 30 games at home and 14 at night are an increase from last year's 18 home contests with 12 at night. In 2010 the Dukes were an impressive 15-3 at home and 9-3 at night in the inaugural season of Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park. JMU shattered program attendance records for both single-game marks (1,815 vs. Virginia March 17) and season-average attendance (795).
JMU will face ACC rivals Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia Tech this season. The Dukes will visit Virginia, ranked third in the final 2010 RPI, on March 15. JMU will welcome Maryland on April 13 and travel to College Park on April 19. The Dukes swept two games from the Terrapins last year. Virginia Tech reappears on JMU's schedule with a two-game set graduation weekend, May 7-8. The 2010 season marked the first time since 2001 that the Dukes and Hokies did not meet and just the third time since 1978 that the teams did not face off at least once in a season.
In league play, the CAA is returning to a 10-series, 30-game conference schedule this season, allowing all teams in the conference to play each other. The 2009 and 2010 seasons had featured an eight-series, 24-game format. However, the change was made back to 10 series as seen in 2008 due to the CAA Tournament field reduction last year from six to four teams.
The Dukes will begin CAA play in the third weekend of the season with a three-game set at William and Mary (March 4-6). In league play, JMU will host Hofstra (March 11-13), Old Dominion (March 25-27), Georgia State (April 8-10), UNC Wilmington (April 29-May 1), and Towson (May 13-15). In addition to W&M, the Dukes travel to defending champion VCU (March 18-20), George Mason (April 1-3), Delaware (April 22-24), and Northeastern (May 20-22. It will be the fourth time in the last five years both for JMU to travel to George Mason and to host Towson.
In addition to the CAA and ACC teams, JMU will host four-game sets in February with Bucknell and Le Moyne along with a two-game set in March against Cornell. JMU will play a three-game series at UNC Greensboro in April. The Dukes also have traditional home-and-away single games against Radford, VMI, Longwood, and Liberty.
JMU returns two-thirds of its squad from last year with 19 of 29 letterwinners returning. The pitching staff will feature four returning members of last year's starting rotation. The Dukes look to build upon last year's 30-23 season, which included a regular-season title in the CAA with an 18-6 record and winning every league series.