NEW ORLEANS (2/07/03) - The Saint Joseph's University baseball team opens its season this weekend, February 7-9, when the Hawks travel to nationally-ranked Tulane for a three-game series. It is the earliest start and the furthest road trip in program history. The Hawks and Greenwave play on Friday at 7:30 EST, Saturday at 3:00 PM and Sunday at 1:00 PM. Friday's game will be broadcast locally on 1590 AM - WPWA. All three games can be heard live over the internet at www.sjuhawks.com. Click here for Game Notes, and Streaming Audio. THE OPPONENT: TULANE With 17 returning letterman, 16 talented newcomers and a pair of Division I transfers, Tulane is ready to make another run at the Conference USA title and a sixth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. Coming off a season in which it went 36-27 overall and placed second in C-USA, the Green Wave garnered a preseason national ranking for the seventh-straight year, claiming the No. 23 spot in the Collegiate Baseball poll and the 26th spot in both the Baseball America and Baseball Weekly/USA Today Coaches polls. Head coach Rick Jones is now in his tenth season as head coach at Tulane and has high expectations because of 15 veterans with starting experience and a recruiting class that ranked 18th nationally. Headlining the 17 returning lettermen are preseason All-American and C-USA Player of the Year Michael Aubrey, as well as 2002 all-conference honorees Jonny Kaplan and Aaron Feldman, both outfielders, and relief pitcher Joey Charron, and preseason all-league infielder Tony Giarratano. THE SERIES: The Hawks have never faced Tulane and are 0-4 all-time against team's from Conference USA. SJU dropped a pair of games last season at Charlotte and also lost two games to South Florida in 1999. The Hawks were 0-3 against nationally-ranked opponents in 2002, dropping a three-game series to Richmond. SAINT JOSEPH'S AT A GLANCE: Coming off four straight 20+ win seasons, Saint Joseph's rebuilt in 2002, posting a 16-36-1 mark overall. Facing four NCAA qualifiers in the early going, SJU struggled to get out of the gate, but a late season surge left SJU just a single game shy of an Atlantic 10 playoff berth. Starting pitching will be the key for Saint Joseph's in 2003. Fifth-year senior Scott Fremont hopes to make the difference for this year's team after being limited to just three innings over the past two seasons due to a variety of shoulder ailments. Besides Fremont, SJU's rotation features a diverse group of hurlers that includes senior Erik Holman, juniors Bill McCollum and Erik Vardijan, and sophomores Brian Anecharico and Ryan Hoagey. Senior Mike Walls (.359, 6 HR, 38 RBI) fuels an offense that set a school record for home runs in 2002. Fellow seniors Kevin Dougher and John Kokol, along with McCollum are others to watch.