HOUSTON -- For the 13th straight year Houston Baseball will open its season at home as the 2018 schedule has been released, announced by eighth-year head coach Todd Whitting Thursday.
The Cougars are set to host 29 homes games at Schroeder Park with Opening Weekend set for Feb. 16-18 against 2017 NCAA Regional participant Holy Cross.
"Once again the schedule is one I feel puts us in the best position to earn an NCAA at-large bid. Our non-conference slate is filled with a variety of NCAA tournament teams, which gives us the opportunity to elevate our RPI. This schedule will be a challenge for our team, and we are looking forward to the competition ahead of us," Whitting said.
During the seven years under Whitting, Houston has accumulated a 20-1 record during Opening Weekends with sweeps each of the last four years against Wake Forest/Nicholls (2017), Villanova (2016), Minnesota (2015) and Nicholls (2014).
NOTES ON SCHEDULE
2 -- Cougars set to play two games at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas: Rice, Sam Houston State
4 -- Houston will host four American opponents at home: Memphis, USF, Wichita State, UCF
8 -- The schedule features eight home midweek games
13 -- Houston will host Opening Weekend games for the 13th straight year
13 -- The Cougars will open the season with 13 straight games vs. 2017 NCAA Regional teams
17 -- 2018 will mark the 17th season to play in the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park
20 -- The Cougars are 20-1 under Todd Whitting (last seven seasons) during Opening Weekend
29 -- Houston will host 29 home games at Schroeder Park
29 -- The Cougars are scheduled to play 29 games vs. 14 different 2017 NCAA Regional teams
35 -- Houston is scheduled to play 35 games in the City of Houston
Houston will play its first 13 games against 2017 NCAA Regional participants, highlighted by a road series the second weekend of the season at 2017 College World Series participant Cal State Fullerton, Feb. 23-25, in Fullerton, Calif.
The Cougars will then return to Houston to host Texas Southern on Feb. 27 before competing in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park for the 17th year, March 2-4. Houston will face three SEC teams during the weekend event, beginning with a Friday, March 2 afternoon matchup vs. Kentucky. The tournament will continue with a meeting with Mississippi State Saturday night at 7 p.m. and wrap on Sunday at 6 p.m. against Vanderbilt.
Adding to the early non-conference slate, Houston will host 2017 NCAA Regional participant San Diego (March 9-11) and Columbia (March 16-18) in back-to-back home weekends.
The month of March is comprised of 13 home games, which features midweek tilts against Houston Baptist (March 6), McNeese (March 7), Lamar (March 20) and Prairie View A&M (March 21).
The 2018 schedule also features road midweek games at 2017 College World Series participant Texas A&M (April 3) and at Texas (April 24) as well as a home matchup versus Stephen F. Austin on May 8.
The Don Sanders Cup continues against Sam Houston State with the first matchup played in Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 20), the second game played at Schroeder Park (April 17) and the final game of the series in Sugar Land, Texas, at Constellation Field (May 1).
Also continuing is the Silver Glove Series with Rice, that dates back to 1998, when the Cougars visit the Owls on March 27, before hosting Rice on April 10. The final game of the series will also be played at Constellation Field on May 15.
Due to a scheduled American Athletic Conference bye weekend, Houston will travel to Southeastern Louisiana the final week of regular-season play for a two-game series, May 17-18.
Looking to defend its regular-season title, Houston will open play in The American on March 23-25 when it hosts Memphis in a three-game set at Schroeder Park. The Cougars will also host USF (April 6-8), new conference opponent Wichita State (April 20-22) and 2017 Co-Champion UCF (May 4-6).
Houston will travel to Cincinnati (March 29-31), Tulane (April 13-15), ECU (April 27-29) and UConn (May 11-13).
"With the addition of Wichita State to The American Athletic Conference, I once again expect our league to be one of the most competitive college baseball leagues in the nation. We continue to rank among the top four leagues, based on RPI, in the country year in-and-year-out and have earned numerous bids to the NCAA tournament. With that, every week in conference play will be a competitive series, and we are looking forward to defending our title this year," Whitting said.
The American Athletic Conference Championship will return to Clearwater, Fla. and Spectrum Field for the fifth straight year, May 22-27.
ABOUT THE 2018 COUGARS
Houston will look to defend its American Athletic Conference titles from a year ago as the Cougars are coming off a 2017 campaign that featured a regular-season and tournament title -- the first Houston team since 2000 to win both in the same year. An early fall roster sports 16 newcomers and 10 true freshmen.
Highlighting the returning group is First Team All-American and reigning American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Trey Cumbie, who finished 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA. Also returning for the 2018 season are All-Conference award winners Joe Davis (.299 avg., 8 HR) and Mitch Ullom (6-3, 3.57 ERA).
A year ago, Houston notched its third 40-plus win season under head coach Todd Whitting when it went 42-21 in 2017 and was awarded the No. 1 seed in the sold-out NCAA Houston Regional for the second time in three years.
SEASON TICKET RENEWAL INFORMATION
Current season ticket members will have the opportunity to renew seats in mid-October. Fans will be able to purchase new season tickets beginning in early December. Fans can check http://uhcougars.com/tickets/ or call the Houston Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS for more information.
Stay up to date with all Houston Baseball news and highlights by following us on Twitter @UHCougarBB or on Facebook at /UHCougarBB. Fans can also follow head coach Todd Whitting @toddwhitting on Twitter.