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Emerging Wilson leads IU into game against Sycamores

POSTED AT 10:20 PM ON Mar. 8, 2011 

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The IU (6-4) baseball team will take the Big Ten’s leading defense and pitching staff to Terre Haute today to take on Indiana State (5-5) for its final tuneup before spring break.

Defense and pitching have been the name of the game for the Hoosiers through the first three-weekend series.

On the offensive side of things, coach Tracy Smith is still waiting for his team to click offensively and capitalize on knocking in runs.

“Right now some guys are pressing because we haven’t gotten those timely hits,” Smith said. “Get good pitching, play good defense and get timely hitting — that’s a formula for winning.”

One of the early bright spots for the Hoosiers’ offense has been senior outfielder Wes Wilson.   

After spending his first three seasons as catcher, Wilson made the transition to the outfield, a move that didn’t surprise Smith.

“I’m happy for him that he has seized the opportunity, albeit in the outfield where he has never played,” Smith said. “To his credit, he just said, ‘I will do whatever is in the best interest of the team,’ and I’m thrilled for him.”

Fresh off a weekend where he hit .500, including a three-hit performance against Tennessee, Wilson finds himself second on the team in batting average.

“I’m just kind of dialed in right now and am comfortable in the box,” Wilson said. “I have become a smarter hitter as the season has gone on, even this early.”

Surrounded in a batting order that normally has five lefties, Smith said he had a feeling that putting Wilson in the lineup was something the offense needed.

“He has had the ability to swing the bat a little bit,” Smith said. “We knew after that first weekend that we were going to have to get his right-handed bat in the middle of that order to split up those lefties.”

Smith’s Hoosiers lost 17-4 to the Sycamores last season largely due to a lack of depth with IU’s pitching.

Of the six pitchers that the Hoosiers threw in last year’s thrashing, only one (Casey Smith) is still on this year’s roster.

IU will send one of its most veteran pitchers to the mound this afternoon in junior Drew Leininger.

Smith said he likes the fact that Leininger is a “strike thrower” and is going to make teams put the ball in play.

After starting the first two weekend series, Leininger came out of the bullpen last Friday against Morehead State University to throw 2 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball.

“Last week’s bullpen session I had a little success, and I’m trying to build off that momentum,” Leininger said.

The in-state match up with Indiana State begins a stretch of nine games in 11 days for the Hoosiers, but all eyes will be focused on taking care of business today.

“We have a chance to do something this year that maybe with our pitching depth last year we didn’t have a chance to do and that is to take midweek games and take them on a consistent basis,” Wilson said.

 

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