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Right handed pitcher junior Eric Crawford (55) pitches the ball towards Northern Kentucky infield freshman Noah Fisher (12) during WKU's 9-6 win against Northern Kentucky University on Friday, Feb 15 at Nick Denes Field.

Coming off a 2019 season that saw the WKU baseball team win 26 games and capture its first Conference USA Tournament victory in program history, head coach John Pawlowski and the Hilltoppers have revealed their full 2020 schedule.

“I really like the challenges and opportunities that the 2020 schedule presents for our team,” Pawlowski said in a release. “This group has worked extremely hard to build on the momentum that was created last year after we finished fourth in the conference and made an appearance in the C-USA Tournament.”

The Hilltoppers’ schedule features a total of seven games against Power 5 opponents — Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue and Vanderbilt.

“I know that the Tops will be excited about having seven games versus Power 5 opponents,” Pawlowski said in a release. “We’re also looking forward to competing against our always tough conference slate.”

The 2020 slate also includes six contests against teams that advanced to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, including a Vanderbilt squad that went on to win the College World Series. 

In addition, the schedule also contains nine matchups against squads that finished the season either ranked or receiving votes in the polls and six games against teams that closed out their 2019 campaign inside the top-50 RPI.

WKU will open its 2020 season at home, hosting the Valparaiso Crusaders on Feb. 14-17 for a three-game series at Nick Denes Field.

The Hilltoppers will then play their first road game of the year with a midweek matchup at Murray State on Feb. 18 before returning to Bowling Green for a weekend series against the Wright State on Feb. 21-23.

The Hilltoppers will then go on the road to Clarksville, Tennessee, and face Austin Peay on Feb. 25, before heading to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to face USC Upstate on the road from Feb. 28 through March 1.

WKU will then return back home to face Belmont on March 3 before facing its first Power 5 opponent of the season in Big Ten school Purdue on March 6-8 at Nick Denes Field.

The Hilltoppers will play yet another Power 5 school while traveling to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats on March 10 before opening up conference competition.

The team will open C-USA play on the road for the first time since 2016, heading to Birmingham, Alabama, for a three-game series against Alabama-Birmingham on March 13-15 before returning home for a five-game stretch against Austin Peay on March 17, Louisiana Tech on March 20-22 and Louisville on March 24.

The team’s final contest of that homestand will feature its annual game at Bowling Green Ballpark on March 24, where it will face a Cardinal team that finished the 2019 season ranked No. 3 in the polls after advancing all the way to the College World Series in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Bowling Green Ballpark game will be followed by road contests against Old Dominion on March 27-29, who the Hilltoppers earned their first C-USA Tournament win in program history against last season, and then at Belmont on March 31.

Six of WKU’s next seven games will be played at home, with the team opening up that stretch by hosting Middle Tennessee State on April 3-5.

The squad will then travel to Nashville, Tennessee, for a matchup against Vanderbilt on April 7, who earned a No. 1 ranking in the polls after taking home the College World Series hardware last season. 

The Hilltoppers will close out the seven-game stretch at home, playing host to Florida International on April 9-11 before traveling for road games against Lipscomb on April 14 and Florida Atlantic on April 17-19.

WKU will then return home for games against Lipscomb on April 21 and Texas-San Antonio on April 24-26 before traveling to Louisville on April 28 and opening up the final month of the regular season at Rice on May 1-3.

The Hilltoppers will mix in a home game against Tennessee-Martin on May 5 before traveling again for its final road series of the season against Charlotte on May 8-10, with the team closing out its regular season at home against Marshall on May 14-16 before the C-USA Tournament begins on May 24.

“We’re excited to open the season at home on February 14,” Pawlowski said in a release. “We hope to see everyone there supporting the 2020 Hilltoppers!”

Reporter Nick Kieser can be reached at nick.kieser036@topper.wku.edu. Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.

Nick Kieser is a sports reporter for the College Heights Herald. He previously covered athletics at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee.