EDINBURG — After three long weeks of facing off against each other in practice, the defending Western Athletic Conference regular season champion UTRGV Vaqueros are finally slated to begin their 2020 campaign Friday night at home.

The Vaqueros are set for a four-game nonconference series against Big 12 opponent Kansas State at UTRGV Baseball Stadium.

Game 1 is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg.

It’s UTRGV first of 10 games against Big 12 competition scheduled this season.

“We got 10 Big 12 games and it’s exciting for us. We’ve got to see where we’re at,” UTRGV head coach Derek Matlock said. “We’re not going to dodge anybody; we’re going to play the best teams. The better teams you play, the better you become and I think it’s a positive in our direction.”

The Vaqueros clashed against the Wildcats a season ago on Kansas State’s home field in a three-game series. The Wildcats took the first two games on scores of 3-1 and 7-1 before UTRGV bounced back to win the series finale 6-5.

UTRGV’s Christian Sepulveda drove in one run and crossed the plate once himself in the Vaqueros’ victory over the Wildcats. The senior from the New York, N.Y., said he’s ready to get things going against Kansas State once again.

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley player Christian Sepulveda during practice at the UTRGV Baseball Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

“We’re really, really excited. We want to beat them and take every game we can from them,” Sepulveda said. “Last year, we didn’t do very well against them, so this year, we want to go out and prove that we should have won last year.”

One key to keep an eye on early in the season is UTRGV’s pitching. The Vaqueros lost all three of their starters from a season ago to graduation, so a new group will emerge as UTRGV’s go-to arms.

Matlock said he’s excited to see what they have this weekend as redshirt junior Kevin Stevens, senior Kevin Palm, and two Rio Grande Valley products in former Mission Veterans pitcher Christian Ramos and former Edinburg High pitcher and Texas Tech transfer John Henry Gonzalez, compete early on.

Making the matchup against Kansas State even more interesting is the possibility of seeing former Edinburg Vela pitcher Nico Rodriguez, now a freshman for the Wildcats, pitch against UTRGV, which has two of Rodriguez’s high school teammates on the roster in sophomore Aaron Galvan and freshman Ramsey Amador.

The Vaqueros are set to launch their 2020 season at 7 p.m. Friday at UTRGV Baseball Stadium. On Saturday and Sunday, first pitch is slated for 2 p.m., while Monday’s series finale against Kansas State is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start. All games will be played at UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg. The games can also be seen on the WAC Digital Network.

For more information, visit GoUTRGV.com.