Release from Georgia State Athletics:
The Georgia State baseball team faces another challenging schedule in 2016, beginning with the second annual Atlanta Challenge on the opening weekend.
The Panthers will face two teams that reached NCAA Super Regionals in 2015 in Sun Belt Conference foe UL Lafayette as well as VCU, plus NCAA Regional teams Auburn and Mercer.
Coming off a 30-27 mark in 2015, Georgia State opens the spring by joining with Atlanta-area neighbors Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State to host the Atlanta Challenge Feb. 19-21 as Western Michigan, VCU and Purdue will head South for one game at each of the Atlanta schools.
“I’m very happy that the Atlanta Challenge is becoming an annual event,” head coach Greg Frady said as he enters his 10th season at the helm. “It was a success last year, and we’re looking forward to another great weekend. The opportunity to measure yourself against three different teams on the opening weekend is very beneficial.”
Purdue is one of two Big Ten teams on the schedule as Minnesota visits for a three-game series, March 4-6.
“The last Big Ten team that came to Panthersville was Illinois (in 2014, when GSU won two of three), and we had a great series with them,” Frady said. “We will return the games to Minnesota in May of 2017.”
The schedule includes 11 games against in-state foes Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Mercer and Savannah State.
The Sun Belt Conference slate, which opens March 18, features home series Arkansas State, UT Arlington, Appalachian State, South Alabama and Troy, along with trips to defending champion UL Lafayette, Little Rock, UL Monroe, Texas State and Georgia Southern.
This year’s Sun Belt Conference Championship will be played at Texas State.
Top returnees for the Panthers, who finished fifth in the Sun Belt in 2015, include a pair of all-conference veterans in senior catcher Joey Roach and junior center fielder Ryan Blanton as well as Freshman All-America shortstop Justin Jones.