Dayton, Tenn. – Bryan College Head Baseball Coach & Athletic Director, Taylor Hasty, announced the 2017 Lions Baseball schedule, which is slated to have the first pitch thrown out on Feb. 3 at Senter Field against River States Conference opponent, University of Rio Grande (Ohio). It should be a battle as both teams received votes in the 2017 NAIA Baseball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll, with Bryan earning 89 votes and Rio Grande picking up 7.
The Lion's schedule consists of 54 games in all, with 32 taking place at home and 22 on the road. Bryan begins their season primarily at home with only one double-header on the road in February set for the 22nd versus Toccoa Falls College in Lakepoint, Ga.
The Lions will be challenged by five top-25 ranked teams and three others who received votes. The ranked opponents include No. 4 Tennessee Wesleyan, No. 5 Georgia Gwinnett, No. 6 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), No. 9 Missouri Baptist, and No. 14 Campbellsville (Ky.). Bryan has matchups against Rio Grande, Cumberland University (Tenn.), and fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference foe Point University (Ga.), who all are receiving votes.
As March rolls around, so will conference play for the Lions as they open up AAC action playing host to St. Andrews University (N.C.) on Mar. 3-4. Bryan gets an out-of-conference matchup against the Blue Raiders of Lindsey Wilson on Mar. 7, before traveling on Mar. 10-11 for a clash with conference opponent Truett-McConnell University (Ga.). Thomas University (Ga.) and Georgia Gwinnett fall on Mar. 14 and 15, and the Lions then claw their way through the final weeks of March and into April with series against Tennessee Wesleyan 17-18 at home, at Reinhardt University 24-25, and at Point from 31-Apr. 1. Georgia Gwinnett comes to Bryan on Apr. 4, followed by a three-game battle at home Apr. 7-8 with conference opponent Union College. The Lions go to Georgetown, Ky. on Apr. 11, taking on the Georgetown Tigers. AAC matchups are scheduled at Milligan College (Tenn.) on Apr. 14-15 and at Bluefield College Apr. 21-22, with road games between at non-conference opponents Cumberland Apr. 18 and Martin Methodist on Apr. 19. The final four outings of the regular-season are at home against Lindsey Wilson on Apr. 25 and a conference series versus Montreat College (N.C.) on Apr. 28-29.
"This time of year is always filled with excitement as we get started, and this year is no different," stated Hasty. "I am proud of the way our team has prepared throughout the fall and the past few weeks. They have worked very hard and I look forward to the challenges we have in front of us. We play some very good teams who will also have prepared at a high level and the competition is the best part of our game!"
Along with receiving votes in the national top-25 poll, the Lions are also projected to finish 2nd in a highly competitive conference. Collecting seven first-place votes, Tennessee Wesleyan garnered 78 total voting points to claim the top spot. Bryan picked up one first-place vote and 63 voting points to land 2nd, while Point got one first-place vote and 60 points to come in third. Union (53 points) is 4th, and both Milligan (36 points) and Reinhardt (36 points) tied for 5th.
Making up the rest of the field are Truett McConnell (7th/33 points), Bluefield (8th/24 points), St. Andrews (9th/20 points), and Montreat (10th/11 points).
Tennessee Wesleyan won last year's regular-season championship with a 23-4 league mark. Tennessee Wesleyan edged Point 3-1 in the AAC Tournament championship, but both Tennessee Wesleyan and Point advanced to the NAIA Opening Round and eventually to the NAIA World Series. Tennessee Wesleyan finished the year 50-15 overall, while Point went 35-30.
The Lions finished the 2016 season 38-18 overall and 18-9 in conference play, having a highest ranking of 15th in the nation.
Bryan had the best batting average in the AAC last season at .324, was 2nd in runs batted in per game averaging 5.96, 3rd in earned run average at 4.20, 4th in opposing batting average at .265, and 1st in fielding percentage at .962.
To view the full 2017 baseball schedule, click here.
Get to know this year's Lions by checking out the roster, click here.