Highlights of 2014 schedule

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For the first time, BB&T Ballpark will host the Dash’s first game of 2014.

The Dash’s 2014 schedule was made public Tuesday, and the 140-game journey will be an exciting one. However, all schedules feature some games that soar above the rest. Here are the top five games of the upcoming slate, which begins in 154 days.

1. Opening Day – April 3 vs. Wilmington

For the first time in BB&T Ballpark history, the Dash will begin their season at home. Winston-Salem meets the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the first of a four-game set on Thursday, April 3. This franchise has not begun a season with a home game since the Warthogs kicked off the 2007 campaign with a seven-game homestand.

Opening Day is always special in the Triad, but it will be even more unique to see the season begin here at BB&T Ballpark. Over the last two seasons, the Dash suffered consecutive nine-run defeats at Carolina to begin the season. This year, the club will enjoy a fresh start in the friendly confides of BB&T Ballpark.

2. Fourth of July game – July 4 vs. Wilmington

The Blue Rocks will be back in town for the other landmark game of the Dash’s schedule. The Fourth of July always attracts one of the best crowds of the season, and this year’s game promises to be huge because it lands on a Friday night.

In 2013, the Dash set a BB&T Ballpark record with a crowd of 7,576 on July 4. Can Winston-Salem top this impressive number next summer? If one game can draw that type of crowd, it is this one. You will not want to miss it.

3. The champs come to town – April 18 vs. Salem

The Salem Red Sox climbed to the top of the Carolina League in 2013 with a strong second-half surge. Winston will have quite a say in how Salem’s repeat bid begins. The Dash and Sox will meet 11 times in the first 27 days of the campaign.

Salem’s first trip to Winston comes in the form of a four-game wraparound weekend set from April 18-21. This series also includes Easter Sunday, so it should be a jam-packed four days as the Dash attempt to reclaim their hold on the Southern Division’s top spot.

4. Southern Division rivalry week begins – July 7 vs. Myrtle Beach

Since Winston-Salem’s nickname change prior to the 2009 season, the two best teams in the Southern Division have been the Dash and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Myrtle is the only CL club that has qualified for the postseason in three straight seasons.

From July 7-18, the Dash will host the Pelicans seven times, while the full month of July features 10 battles between two squads that always seem to be contenders. The second half race will start to take shape when the Birds and Dash get comfortable with each other in the Triad in July.

5. First-half finale – June 15 at Potomac

Over the last five seasons, Winston-Salem has claimed three first-half division crowns, while last year’s Dash bunch had a chance at the title until the second-to-last day of the half.

If Winston wants to clinch a playoff spot in June, the squad may need to go through Potomac, who was the best team on the circuit in the regular season a year ago. Meaningful baseball is the best kind of baseball, and we are hoping for some in Woodbridge next June.

For a printable version of the Dash’s 2014 schedule, click here. Hope you have a happy Halloween tonight! Enjoy the candy.

- Brian

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