The 2019 Purdue baseball season was disappointing at 20-34 after the Boilers made the NCAA Tournament in 2018. It was even more disappointing when coach Mark Wasikowski left to go back to Oregon as head coach. That means Greg Goff will take over. Goff served as a volunteer assistant the last two seasons after previously coaching at Campbell (2008-14), Louisiana Tech (2015-16) and Alabama (2017). He had an acrimonious departure from Alabama, but has won more than 300 games at the Division I level and has taken a pair of teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Goff takes over a roster that has some promise, but struggled with consistency last year. Purdue struggled at the plate with just 11 home runs as a team in 2019 and it batted only .239. The pitching staff was okay with a combined ERA of 4.41, but it also struggled with consistency.
There are some promising returnees, however. Bo Hofstra appeared in 24 games with a 1.62 ERA, 2-2 record, and 7 saves. Matt Moore was 5-0 in 27 relief appearances. Andrew Bohm, Kyle Wade, Trent Johnson, Dalton Parker, and Cory Brooks all form a veteran staff. The return of Ben Nisle, who missed much of last season with an injury, will also help the power numbers.
We also now have the schedule, which was released today.
Purdue will start the season on a neutral field in Sanford, Florida on February 14 with a four-game set against Hofstra. The Pride was 18-31-1 a year ago, and this series will have a Saturday doubleheader.
The next week Purdue will head to Buies Creek, North Carolina, where it will take part in the Campbell Invitational with Campbell (37-21, Greenville Regional Finalist), Maine (15-34), and Villanova (13-38). Campbell beat NC State and Quinnipiac in last year’s NCAA Tournament before losing two straight to regional host East Carolina.
The third weekend of the season presents Purdue with its biggest challenge to date. Purdue, Iowa, and Minnesota will host Duke (35-27, Regional winner, lost to eventual National Champion Vanderbilt 2-1 in a Super Regional), North Carolina (46-19, NCAA Regional host), and North Carolina State (42-19, NCAA team) in the Dairy Queen Classic/ ACC-Big Ten Challenge. This will be played February 28-March 1 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Yes, that is the Vikings’ stadium, but it still has a baseball configuration.
Purdue follows that with its first midweek game of the year on March 4 at Indiana (37-23, NCAA team) in a non-conference game, followed by three games at Western Kentucky (26-29-1) on March 6-8 and three games at Evansville (24-29) March 13-15.
After opening the season with 17 straight road/neutral site games the Boilers will have their home opener on Tuesday, March 17 against Milwaukee (32-21). followed by a Wednesday night game against Iona (14-38).
Big Ten play starts the weekend of March 20-22 and Purdue begins it with three games at NCAA runner-up Michigan (50-22). The Boilers then have a home midweek game against Purdue-Fort Wayne (6-45) on March 24 which features former coach Doug Schreiber as Purdue’s all-time wins leader. That’s followed by a road game at Indiana State (43-18, regional runner-up at Vanderbilt) the next day.
The first Big Ten home series is against Illinois (36-21, NCAA team) March 27-29, followed by home games against Valparaiso (14-36) and Indiana State the following Tuesday and Wednesday. April 3-5 Purdue goes to Iowa (29-24) for three and has a midweek game at Ball State (36-19) on April 7 before hosting Nebraska (32-24, NCAA team) April 10-12.
The Nebraska series starts a lengthy homestand as Purdue hosts Butler (24-26) on April 14th, then Samford (41-19) for a three-game series April 17-19. Ball State returns for a midweek game on April 21 before Purdue plays at Butler the next night in Indy at Victory Field.
On April 24-26 Purdue returns to Minneapolis to face Minnesota (27-27) for three games. It is then back home to face Chicago State (10-41) on April 28, Maryland (29-29) on May 1-3, and Indiana May 8-10. Purdue will then close the season with a May 12 game at Milwaukee and a three-game set at Michigan State (20-34)
Overall the schedule has some good balance. It is built for early success in the first two weeks, but is challenging with the three ACC games. Non-conference games with Indiana and Indiana State represent the toughest team teams in-state, and the Big Ten itself is grueling with perhaps the toughest league schedule possible since Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Nebraska all made last year’s NCAA Tournament and Iowa, Minnesota, and Maryland have all been good of late.
I will say this: There will definitely be chances to make the tournament. Overall the 56 game slate is perfectly balanced with 23 home games, 23 road games, and 20 neutral site games (all four against Hofstra, two in the Campbell invitational, the ACC/B1G games in Minneapolis, and the Victory Field game against Butler).