Long-time NCAA Division II contender Central Oklahoma opens a nine-game home schedule against a near-by rival and will play five national tournament teams in 2013, according to the schedule released Friday.
The Bronchos of 16th-year head coach Mike Cook have four starters and eight other letterwinners back from last year's 16-3-3 squad that advanced to the second round of the Division II playoffs in making their ninth national tournament appearance since 2000.
UCO opens the season at Tom Thompson Field on Thursday, Sept. 5 with a 4 p.m. contest against Oklahoma Christian. It will be the first meeting between the two since 2009, with the Bronchos owning a 6-0 series lead.
Three of UCO's seven non-conference games are against returning Division II national tournament teams, starting with a Sept. 7 road date at William Jewell. The Bronchos also host Dallas Baptist Sept. 12 and go to Southwestern Oklahoma Sept. 22.
UCO opens Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play Sept. 20 at Missouri Southern. Included in the six-game home league slate is an Oct. 18 showdown with defending champion Central Missouri, which made the Central Regional finals last year.
The Bronchos' other match against a returning national tournament team is Oct. 11 at Fort Hays State. UCO beat the Tigers 2-0 in the first round of last year's playoffs.