The Pitt-Bradford baseball team released its 2017 schedule Thursday, and the season officially kicks off Saturday, Feb. 25, versus Juniata in New Market, Va.
Pitt-Bradford and Baldwin Wallace meet the next day for a pair of games, part of a busy opening weekend for the Blue and Gold. It will be a tune-up for the Panthers before they head to Fort Myers, Fla., for the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic during the first week of March for their annual Spring Break trip.
Pitt-Bradford is slated to play nine games in Florida against schools from Massachusetts, Minnesota and Ohio, including squaring off with Saint John's (Minn.). The Johnnies are ranked 29th in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll and won 32 games a year ago, finishing runner-up at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
Upon returning from Spring Break, the Panthers will spend a majority of their time on the road, with games scheduled against Ursinus (Pa.), Houghton and Penn College. Pitt-Bradford will host the latter Saturday, March 25, in the team's home opener, and the Panthers close out the month against Medaille as conference play ramps up.
Three straight home doubleheaders highlight the first week of April before Pitt-Bradford travels to AMCC opponents Penn State Behrend and La Roche. The Panthers were eliminated from last year's conference tournament by Penn State Behrend, and La Roche advanced to the NCAA Division III College World Series, finishing the season ranked No. 5 in the country.
Home conference dates with Hilbert and Mt. Aloysius dot the schedule during the third week of the month, and the Panthers wrap up league play at Penn State Altoona Saturday, April 29. Pitt-Bradford concludes the regular season in May with contests against Fredonia and Keuka.
The first round of the AMCC tournament is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, and the championship series is the following weekend.
Pitt-Bradford will be led by first-year head coach and alumnus Zach Foster. The Bradford native served as an assistant last year before being named the second coach in program history in July.
"We are very excited to get the ball rolling and start practice officially," Foster said. "The guys have taken an active approach to getting themselves ready earlier than previous years and should be firing on all cylinders.
"This group knows what it takes to be uncommon and they have their goals set pretty high this season."
The Panthers return a pair of all-conference performers in juniors Dalton Renn and Jay Clinger. Renn led the team in runs batted in last year, and Clinger was among the team leaders in extra base hits.
The first team practice is set for Sunday.