You know weâ€™re big fans of non-conference tournaments, and we know weâ€™re big fans of non-conference tournaments. Weâ€™ve already covered several such tournaments in this countdown, and you can read those posts here, here, and here.
With that in mind, itâ€™s understandable that weâ€™re big fans of Coastal Carolinaâ€™s non-conference slate. The Chanticleers, as a matter of fact, have become tournament hosts to the nation. No one, it seems, plays in more early-season tournaments.
Take the 2016 schedule, for example. The Chants will play in tournaments at home on all four of their non-conference weekends.
They open the season with the Caravelle Resort Tournament, taking on Appalachian State, North Carolina State, and Virginia. You can do a lot worse than a quality mid-major (App. St.), a team that was one pitching meltdown away from a super regional a year ago (NC St.), and the national champs (UVA). Games in this tournament also take place in Myrtle Beach, involving NC State, Virginia, Old Dominion, and Kent State. Those latter two programs will be competitive as well.
On the very next weekend,Â itâ€™s Caravelle Resortâ€™s Baseball at the Beach (not to be confused with the previous weekendâ€™s Caravelle Resort Tournament). These games are also split between CCUâ€™s home park, Springs Brooks Stadium, and TicketReturn.com Field in Myrtle Beach. Taking part in this one alongside the host Chanticleers is Marshall, Liberty, Ohio State, and Duke. Certainly, thatâ€™s not a field to take lightly either.
The third weekend of the season brings the Chanticleer Classic, with all games taking place at Springs Brooks Stadium. Ball State, Mississippi, and Cincinnati will join CCU in this one, and thereâ€™s something to watch with all of those teams. Ball State has grown into a quality MAC program, led by former Michigan head coach Rich Maloney. Mississippi is looking to take a step forward after they finished 30-28 last season. Their electric shortstop Errol Robinson is worth the price of admission alone. Cincinnati wonâ€™t have Ian Happ, of course, but head coach Ty Neal has been stacking the program with young talent for a couple of years now, and itâ€™s only a matter of time before that talent shines through.
Finally, the Coastal Carolina Invitational takes place on the final non-conference weekend of the season. Just two teams, UNC-Greensboro and Illinois, will be coming to Springs Brooks Stadium for the tournament, but the games between Illinois and CCU, in particular, should be a lot of fun. Last year, the Illini visited as part of the Chanticleer Classic and their 7-1 domination of the host Chants hinted at how good they were going to end up being.
And hey, perhaps more than anything else when it comes to these tournaments, towns on or near the coast of South Carolina make for a great place to watch college baseball.