BERKELEY - California will be road tested from the onset of the upcoming season as it prepares for the program's 46th year in existence with 29 of its contests away from the comforts and views of Strawberry Canyon to kick off 2019.
The preseason schedule includes five tournaments and two midweek matchups before the Bears settle back into their final season at Levine-Fricke Field, which will undergo renovation for a new stadium beginning the fall of 2019.
For the first time in program history, Cal will travel to Lafayette, La., to start the season at the Louisiana-Lafayette Tournament on Feb. 9, opening against Fordham who advanced to the Baton Rouge Regional last season. The Bears continue action after a five-game slate in the Bayou State at the inaugural ESPN St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational (Feb. 14-17) in Clearwater, Fla., where Cal will have its first potential glance at postseason. Cal will compete against against Texas, James Madison, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Minnesota, who all appeared in the tournament a year ago.
"We have a very tough schedule this year. Going to Florida, and playing a top-50 RPI, is going to be a real challenge to our team," said head coach Diane Ninemire, who is beginning her 31st season at the helm. Hopefully this will help us compete better in the Pac-12."
Cal will participate in a pair of in-state tournaments at the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic (Feb. 22-24) in Palm Springs, followed by a tournament at UC Santa Barbara (March 1-2). Tournament play concludes at the Hawaii Tournament (March 6-10) in Honolulu.
Travel continues through the beginning of Pac-12 play as the Bears visit the Utes of Utah (March 15-17) to open up their conference slate, before returning to the Bay Area to host Stanford March 23-25 and UC Davis on March 27.
Cal will spends its longest period at home with an eight-game slate April 3-14, sandwiched between road battles at UCLA (March 29-21) and at Oregon (April 18-20), the reigning league champs. Those eight games include conference series with Washington (April 5-7) and Oregon State (April 12-14) and a pair of midweek games against Pacific (April 3) and Saint Mary's (April 10).
For senior weekend, Cal welcomes Arizona (April 26-28) before closing the season at Arizona State (May 3-5).
"In order to be the best, we have to play the best," Ninemire said. "We're excited about getting our team out there with our veteran pitchers in the circle. Hopefully, with the early challenges, it'll prepare us to go a bit deeper in the post season than we have recently."
Fans will be able to watch more than half of Cal's Pac-12 series on the Pac-12 Networks, with 15 of the 24 games being broadcasted. All other home games will be live streamed on Pac-12.com. Information on tournament coverage will be released when available.
2018 found Cal back in the postseason for the 32nd time in program history and the 30th occasion under Ninemire. The Bears concluded a 35-21 year at the Athens Regional hosted by Georgia with a devastating 4-3 loss against Northwestern, as they led 2-1 in the seventh inning. Cal also picked up seven wins in league play, a game ahead of its 2017 league record.