The UW-Milwaukee baseball team begins the 2020 season in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this weekend, playing four games against three different opponents. The season opener is Friday, February 14th at 11:00 AM (CT) against Illinois. Saturday brings a doubleheader against host Wake Forest and the weekend concludes with a 9:00 AM (CT) first pitch against Seton Hall on Sunday.
The 2020 campaign marks the 56th season of UWM baseball. It’s also the 50th season of varsity play (the program played at the club level from 1982-1986) and the 30th in the Panthers Division 1 era.
UWM has a 6-23 record in season openers at the Division 1 level. It’s tough for a northern team entering the season since teams typically can’t practice outdoors due to weather.
The 2020 season marks year 14 for head coach Scott Doffek. Doffek holds a 370-353-2 (.512) overall record and a 189-152-1 (.553) Horizon League record.
The Panthers are 2-3 all-time against Illinois, who they open the season against, with three of the five meetings coming in the past two seasons.
UWM lost a lot from the 2019 team due to graduation and the MLB Draft. The Panthers need to replace 57.2 percent of at-bats, 60.8 percent of the runs scored, 59.1 percent of the hits and 52.1 percent of the home runs. There will be plenty of opportunities for the newcomers to shine. There are 17 players who have never worn a UWM uniform in a game before. Of the 17 players, 14 of them are freshmen (11 true, 3 redshirt).
The Panthers open the season with 981 all-time wins in program history and will (hopefully) join a small list of teams in the athletic department once they cross the 1,000 win plateau. Men’s basketball was the first team to do it (currently 1,366 wins) and women’s volleyball was the second team to do it (1,092 wins).
In 2019, UWM played 21 straight games away from home to open the year. This year, the Panthers have 20 games away from home to start the season. The record was set in 2018 when Milwaukee played 34 consecutive road games to open the season. The team will travel over 12,000 miles via plane or bus, visiting five different states (North Carolina, California, Oregon, Ohio and Indiana) before playing their scheduled home opener on March 20th.
2020 Horizon League Baseball Preseason Poll:
1. UIC (3 first-place votes) 33
2. Wright State (3 first-place votes) 32
3. Milwaukee 24
4. Northern Kentucky 16
5. Youngstown State 14
6. Oakland 7
Through a marketing agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers, UWM has played at Miller Park every season since 2002. The Panthers are 18-11 in games at a MLB park. In 2020, the Panthers host Oakland at Miller Park on April 17th.