Travis said he does not pay much attention to preseason accolades. Opponents do, as they issued three intentional walks to Travis, an Orland Park, Ill., native during the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.
UConn intentionally walked him twice in extra innings with the score tied at three, and South Florida bypassed his bat in the sixth inning as IU sought to build upon an 8-2 lead. IU Coach Tracy Smith said he has to do a better job of protecting Travis in the lineup.
Scott Donley, a redshirt sophomore who sat out last year after transferring from Virginia Tech, had his first career hit plated the Hoosiers’ first run of the season last weekend against Louisville.
“I was really excited and happy to get back on the baseball diamond and play for this school,” Donley said. “It was real big. The whole time, I was thinking ‘I gotta put the ball in play, advance the runner.’ I went up there, stuck to what I’ve been doing my whole life and just hit the ball.”
Smith said Donley’s play earned him a promotion in the batting order.
“We had Donley hitting in the sixth spot (last weekend),” Smith said. “Truthfully, we probably need to bump him up. Going into this weekend, we’re going to put him at four because Scott swung the bat really, really well. If somebody wants to pitch around Travis to get to Donley, go ahead.”
The Hoosiers are coming off a weekend in which they won two out of three games. IU won the series from Georgia Southern last April in Bloomington, but Donley said that does not matter, because this is a new year.
The Eagles won two of three games at home against Georgia to open their season. They returned seven position players and two starting pitchers from last year’s team, including sophomore Will Middour, who limited the Hoosiers to one unearned run on five hits in seven innings to extinguish IU’s bid for a sweep.
Smith said he plans to maintain the rotation of junior southpaw Joey DeNato, sophomore Aaron Slegers and sophomore left-hander Kyle Hart for the season’s second series in a tough place to play.
“I’ll say the same praise that I had for them last year, now multiply it times two because we’re going to be in their venue,” Smith said. “The home crowd really gets into it. We’re going to have to put together quality at bats like we did (last) weekend. I don’t care what pitcher you’re facing, if we string together quality at bats, we may not win every single game, but we’ll be in a position to win.”
Travis said the team had not seen the scouting reports on Eagles’ pitchers as of Wednesday afternoon, but he and his teammates are confident nonetheless.
“We’re pretty confident that we can hit anybody,” he said. “We got the win over Louisville. We’re used to seeing to seeing good pitching all the time.”
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