The Day

UConn baseball opens season with an arduous road schedule


– The UConn baseball team will board a flight to Florida this morning for a season-opening series.

Over the next month, the Huskies also will travel to California twice, back to Florida and to Hawaii for the first time, playing 18 of their first 19 games on the road.

They hope to pile up some valuable wins and valuable team bonding time during their ambitious start to the schedule.

“It looks glamorous on the computer screen,” coach Jim Penders said before practice Wednesday at Elliot Ballpark. “I hope we can endure it. That's the key.

“We had some great guarantees and budget-wise it makes sense. It looks crazy, but Hawaii is giving us a really nice paycheck to go out there and play. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the guys to see that part of the world. So, we took it.”

UConn's last road trip ended one game short of reaching the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.. The Huskies lost the deciding game in the best-of-three Super Regional series at Stanford in June.

The defeat made the Huskies even more determined to complete their journey this season.

“It made us even more hungry knowing that we got so close…,” said first baseman Ben Huber, whose potent bat drove in 66 runs and hit 11 home runs last season. “I feel like we have the pieces that we need to make that last step and get to Omaha.”

It all starts this weekend with UConn playing Ohio State in a four-game series beginning Friday night in Venice, Fla. Big East preseason pitcher of the year Ian Cooke, the only returning member of last season's weekend starting rotation, will take the ball in the opener. Converted reliever Jake Sullivan and transfers Andrew Sears (Rhode Island College) and Stephen

Quigley (Wheaton) will finish the series.

The Huskies return a strong core from a team that posted a program-record 50 victories, won the Big East regular season and tournament titles for the second straight season, and earned their first ever Super Regional victory.

They're the preseason favorite to win the Big East.

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