Sometimes when you play in a smaller conference that isnâ€™t always guaranteed to provide you with a ton of quality RPI games during the course of the season, you have to be aggressive in putting together a quality non-conference slate of games.
The College of Charleston Cougars have done just that for 2016.
They start off their campaign with a three-game set at home against Nebraska. The Huskers underachieved a little bit last season and missed the postseason, but theyâ€™re still a very, very talented club that will be a player in the Big Ten race this season. In particular, a Nebraska offense featuring veterans like Ryan Boldt, Ben Miller, and Jake Schleppenbach will be tough to deal with.
The Cougars follow that up with a road series against perennial national power Florida State. Not only are the Seminoles going to be very good yet again, but they also have one of the best home-field advantages in college baseball at Dick Howser Stadium. Even if the Seminoles come away winning two of three or with a sweep, this series will be great experience against elite competition for Charleston.
After they take on in-state foes The Citadel for three games, they host the Mercer Bears for three games in mid-March. Not only is Mercer right alongside College of Charleston on the list of the best mid-major programs in the country, they will also come to town featuringÂ Kyle Lewis, one of the top MLB prospects in all of college baseball. Seeing him will be worth the price of admission alone.
One week later, the Cougars host VCU. In most years, this series wouldnâ€™t have drawn too much attention, but the Rams are coming off of a super regional appearance a season ago. Even ifÂ they will be without many of the key contributors from last year, their success will give that series some extra edge.
Finally, after a couple of weekends of conference play, the Cougars will welcome in UC-Santa Barbara. The Gauchos have developed into a player in the Big West Conference under Andrew Checketts, and they promise to be a handful, led by spark plug outfielder Andrew Calica.
College of Charleston will undoubtedly take some bumps over the course of their non-conference schedule, but they will come out on the other end of it tougher, more battle-tested, and ready to compete again for the Colonial crown.