Nov. 5, 2002
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- The Arizona State Baseball team released its 2003 schedule today revealing a tough 62-game regular season slate. The Devils' 2003 schedule includes 25 games against nine teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year.
Returning back to Packard Stadium with a brand new playing surface after playing last year at Mesa's Hohokam Park, ASU is scheduled to play 37 of its 62 regular-season games at home and a total of 40 games in the state of Arizona.
Adding to ASU's already rigorous Pac-10 schedule, the Sun Devils will also take on perennial college baseball powers Oklahoma (March 14-16, April 29), Long Beach State (Jan. 31-Feb. 2), Notre Dame (Feb. 22-23) and Wichita State (Mar. 18-19). An early highlight will feature ASU hosting San Diego State (Jan. 24-26) at Packard Stadium for Tony Gwynn's college head coaching debut.
The Sun Devils will be facing another challenging schedule in 2003 while dealing with the last-minute loss of ace starting pitcher Mike Esposito and losing 16 players from what was tabbed as the best recruiting class in the nation prior to the MLB draft. ASU does return six starters and three of the top four pitchers from the 2002 team that finished the year with a 37-21 record and hosted an NCAA regional for the second time in the last three years. ASU's recruiting class that will debut on the diamond in 2003 was recently ranked No. 6 in the nation by Baseball America.
"We are excited for the opportunity to once again play one of the nation's toughest schedules," said ASU's ninth year head coach Pat Murphy. "The Pac-10 is always one of the toughest conferences in the nation and we start with a very demanding non-conference schedule. It should bring out the best in our team."
The Sun Devils officially open the 2003 season with a six-game road trip to face Hawai'i-Hilo (Jan. 16-19), returning to the Big Island for the first time since 1999. ASU unofficially kicks off the 2003 campaign with the annual Alumni game on Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. at Packard Stadium.
"Hawai'i-Hilo is a tough environment to excel in and they have shown that by playing and beating the likes of Wichita State, Tennessee and Florida State to open the season in recent years," commented Murphy. "The trip will give our players a chance to come together as a team on the road."
Following the trip to Hawai'i, the Sun Devils will host Gwynn's SDSU team before traveling to hostile Blair Field for a three-game set with the Long Beach State 49'ers. Beginning with a three-game series against '02 NCAA regional finalist BYU (Feb. 6-8), the Sun Devils will play their next 25 games in the state of Arizona. ASU will play in the inaugural Surprise Classic with Gonzaga, Oklahoma State and Oregon State at the new spring training facility of the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals.
"We are excited to get to play over in the West Valley and give those ASU followers a chance to see us play," said Murphy, whose team will also hold 13 fall practices in Surprise starting Nov. 18.
ASU will then host College World Series participant Notre Dame for a two-game series (Feb. 22-23) in an intriguing match-up featuring Murphy and the school he built into a baseball power in the seven years prior to his arrival at ASU. Following the second annual Bob Schaefer Memorial Classic (Mar. 6-9) with Cal State Northridge, Utah and Southern Utah, ASU concludes its preseason schedule with three games against Oklahoma (Mar. 14-16) and two games against Wichita State (Mar. 18-19).
The Sun Devils open Pac-10 play with conference front-runners Stanford (Mar. 22-24) and at USC (Mar. 28-30). The Cardinal and Trojans have finished first and second in the conference each of the last two years. ASU will also host UCLA (Apr. 17-19), Washington State (Apr. 25-27) and Arizona (May 23-25) in Pac-10 home contests. Conference road games include trips to California (Apr. 11-13), Oregon State (May 12-14), and Washington (May 17-19).