WKU announces schedule for 2022 baseball season


WKU Athletics

head John Pawlowski fists bumps redshirt junior pitcher Bailey Sutton (3) as he talks to his team following a 5-4 win over Cincinnati on Feb. 26, 2021. 

Camden Bush, Baseball reporter

WKU Baseball announced its 2022 schedule on Wednesday. 

The Hilltoppers have many newcomers on the roster this season but have some strong returning pieces. The team figures to be led by the junior standout Jackson Gray and senior Justin Carlin. Senior Sean Bergeron and junior Jake Kates hope to lead the WKU pitching unit.

The Hilltoppers finished the 2021 season with a 27-29 overall record and a 15-17 record in conference play. WKU made its second Conference USA tournament appearance in program history. 

However, the biggest reason for excitement when it comes to this team is transfer junior Tristin Garcia. Garcia is transferring to the Hill from Alcorn State where he was one of the top hitters in all of college baseball last year. Garcia slashed an absurd .445 batting average while being the toughest to strike out in the SWAC with a 13.8% strikeout rate. Garcia is set to make an immediate impact at WKU.

WKU has a very challenging schedule in 2022. The Hilltoppers are slated to play 17 games against teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last season. Additionally, the Hilltoppers have 13 games against teams that finished the 2021 season in the top 25. 

This is a very exciting and challenging schedule that awaits the Hilltoppers in 2022,” WKU head coach John Pawlowski said in a release. “We have 17 games against teams that were in the NCAA Regionals last year and seven games versus Power 5 opponents. This group had a very productive fall, and we certainly look forward to the 2022 season here on the Hill.”

WKU will open the season at home against Western Illinois from Feb. 18-20. The Hilltoppers will follow up with one game at Lipscomb on Feb. 22nd.

Pawlowski’s unit will face their first big challenge of the year on Feb. 25-27 when they host Central Michigan in their first four-game series of the season. The Chippewas finished last season ranked 48th in RPI. 

The Hilltoppers’ next opponent will be against their first Power Five opponent in Kentucky. The Wildcats will host the Hilltoppers in Lexington for this one game stand on March 1. 

Following its game against its in-state rival, WKU will welcome Hartford to Bowling Green from March 4-6. The Hilltoppers will be back on the road heading to Eastern Kentucky for one game against the Colonels on March 8. 

WKU will then play its first series against a Power Five opponent, welcoming Illinois to Nick Denes Field from March 11-13. The program will follow this up with a game in Nashville against Belmont on March 15.

The squad opens up C-USA play in very tough fashion. The Hilltoppers will play at Charlotte from March 18-20 against a team that finished last season ranked No. 24 in the nation and advanced all the way to the NCAA Regionals.

After the tough road trip, WKU will return home for a five-game stand beginning on March 22 against Evansville. It will be followed with a three-game series against Southern Miss from March 25-27. 

Last season Southern Miss finished the season ranked No. 23 in the nation. The Hilltoppers will close out the homestand against the ACC’s Louisville on March 29. 

WKU will head to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to take on the rival Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in a three-game series from April 1-3. Up next, the Hilltoppers will head back home for four games. They will open up with a game against Belmont on April 5, then host FIU in a three-game series from April 8-10. 

WKU will have its hardest test of the year on April 12, heading to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt made it all the way to the College World Series last year where the team fell to Mississippi St. The Commodores finished the season ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Following Vanderbilt, the Hilltoppers will head down south to take on Florida Atlantic in a three-game series from April 14-16. They will host Lipscomb on April 19 and Marshall from April 22-24. WKU won all eight meetings against Marshall last year.

The Hilltoppers will head to Louisville for the team’s second meeting against the Cardinals on April 26. They will then head to Houston to take on Rice in a three game series from April 29-May 1. 

WKU will return home for a weekend series against UAB from May 6-8. The program will begin another road trip on May 10 with a game at Austin Peay. They will play at Louisiana Tech in a three-game series from May 13-15. The Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Regionals and finished the season ranked No. 21 

The Hilltoppers will wrap up this five-game road trip with a game at Bellarmine on May 17. They will head back home to close out the season with a three-game series against Old Dominion from May 19-21. Last season, Old Dominion advanced to the NCAA Regionals and finished the season ranked No. 16 in the nation. 

The 2022 C-USA Tournament is scheduled to begin on May 25.

Tickets for the 2022 season will be made available at a later date.