The Mid-American Conference approved a scheduling format for the upcoming 2021 college baseball season over the holiday season, providing a framework to play a full slate of games, which will likely be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
As first reported by Kendall Rogers at D1Baseball.com, MAC athletic directors have approved a scheduling model that includes a 56-game regular-season schedule. Teams can play up to 16 non-conference games and will play 40 conference games.
The conference game format will consist of a four-game weekend series, with Saturdays in the MAC consisting of seven-inning doubleheaders.
More specific details, including postseason format, are expected to be released in the coming days.
This is a fairly generous scheduling format for MAC teams, with conferences like the ACC limiting competition to 50 games, the Big Ten currently not allowing non-conference competition, and smaller conferences like the Colonial Athletic Association scheduling 24 conference games and leaving non-conference schedules up to the “creativity” of each school.
The 2021 MAC season will be the first full season for the return of Akron baseball, who went 1-11 in their brief return to the diamond during a COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. Zips baseball was cut following the 2015 season due to budget concerns.
It will also mark the return of baseball to Bowling Green, a program that was quickly resurrected after being shut down earlier this year as a result of budget shortfalls due to COVID. Bowling Green will return to the diamond with a new head coach in Kyle Hallock, who served as BGSU’s pitching coach since 2018.
While conferences continue to roll out how their 2021 seasons will look from a scheduling perspective, national outlets are already prepping for the year by announcing a few early pre-season honors.
Central Michigan University, the defending MAC champions (were also 11-6 and leading the MAC at the time of last season’s shutdown) were recently ranked 38th in Collegiate Baseball’s pre-season Top 50. They were the only MAC school included in the list.
Individual pre-season honors are also beginning to roll out. Ohio LHP Joe Rock is currently ranked 32nd on D1Baseball.com’s list of Top 100 2021 MLB Draft prospects, while Miami RHP Sam Bachman is currently ranked 63rd and Kent State RHP Luke Albright is ranked 69th.