University of Hawai’i 17th-year head coach Mike Trapasso announced the 2018 Rainbow Warriors baseball slate on Monday (Sept. 18). The 52-game campaign features a 32-game home schedule and four opponents in last year’s NCAA postseason, including two College World Series participants.
The Rainbow Warriors are coming off a 28-23 record in the 2017 season.
“We take pride in having a challenging schedule every year,” Trapasso said. “And this season is no exception, with a trip to perennial power LSU, and series with old rivals BYU and Fresno State. Those series, along with the Big West Conference, one of the best conferences in all of college baseball, should make for a fun spring!”
The crown jewel of the 2018 non-conference schedule is a three-game road series at Southeastern Conference Co-Champion LSU at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. The Tigers (52-20) emerged victorious from the SEC Tournament amidst a 16-game winning streak that carried them to the College World Series. LSU topped the seemingly-unbeatable Oregon State Beavers to advance to the CWS title series, falling to eventual NCAA Champion Florida. The two programs are meeting for the first time.
The LSU series is slated for March 9-11, following a 12-game Hawai’i home stand to open UH’s 35th season at Les Murakami Stadium. The season-opening stretch begins against Air Force (Feb. 16-19), followed by back-to-back series with BYU (Feb. 22-24) and Loyola Marymount (March 1-4). AFA finished fifth in the Mountain West last season with a 27-26 record and the Falcons led the nation in hitting with a .344 average. Consecutive weekends against BYU and LMU pit the Rainbow Warriors against the reigning top teams in the West Coast Conference. Renewing a 74-game former Western Athletic Conference rivalry dormant since 2002, the Cougars were regular season co-Champions and won the league tournament, ending their season in the Stanford NCAA Regional with a 38-21 record. Their Co-Champion, the Lions were left out of the postseason despite finishing 38-18 on the year. LMU and UH have sparred periodically in one-off contests, but have not played a full series since 2006.
Following the powerhouse start to the year, the Rainbow Warriors will host first-ever meetings against Illinois State (March 15-17) and Seton Hall (March 23-26) in back-to-back weekends at Les Murakami Stadium, hemming up the final two non-conference home series. The ISU Redbirds were 16-40 last year; 14 of their victories came against non-conference foes. The SHU Pirates were 29-24 and finished fourth in the Big East.
The Big West Conference remained among the nation’s best leagues last season, ranking eighth in conference RPI for the second consecutive year, and there are no signs of setback in league strength for the coming year. The conference season begins March 29-31 on the road at UC Irvine, the Anteaters coming off a down-year record of 23-33.
Staying on the road, UH will take a mid-week matchup at Pacific (Calif.) on April 2, facing the Tigers for the first time since 2007. UOP was 18-35 a year ago.
The Rainbow Warriors will then make consecutive Big West weekends at UC Davis (April 6-8) and at home against UC Riverside (April 13-15). UH split with the two UC schools at 3-3 last year.
An April 18 midweek meeting with CSU Bakersfield kicks off the third road trip of the year. The programs make their inaugural meeting with CSUB coming off a 32-24 season at third in the WAC. UH travels to Cal State Fullerton over the weekend (April 20-22). The Titans finished a consensus No. 7 after going 39-24 to end their year in the CWS. UH has won three of the last six contests against CSF, including the 2-1 series win in 2016.
The Rainbow Warriors return home to face CSUN (26-29) and Cal Poly (28-28) in consecutive home conference series on April 27-29 and May 4-6, before heading out to face old WAC foe Fresno State for the 133rd time, May 11-13. The Bulldogs finished third in the Mountain West standings, pushing five games into the conference tournament before their elimination by Champion San Diego State in the title game.
The final home weekend of the campaign (May 18-20) brings the reigning Big West Champion to town, Long Beach State. The Dirtbags ranked No. 8 in the final standings, finishing 42-20 after falling in the Super Regional to CSF.
For the second consecutive year, the Rainbow Warriors’ regular season ends with UC Santa Barbara (May 24-26). Only one year removed from 43 wins and a CWS appearance, UCSB had only one senior on last year’s team. Over last year’s senior weekend, UH claimed the series victory at Murakami Stadium, 2-1.
The Rainbow Warriors begin fall team practices on Sept. 26. The annual baseball Alumni Game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10 at Les Murakami Stadium.