Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU brings winning record to Big Ten action

peter

Crediting the mental toughness of his players, IU coach Tracy Smith said he’s plenty proud of his squad as it heads into its first series of the Big Ten schedule this weekend at Sembower Field.

“I’m pleased that we’re one game over .500 going into the Big Ten,” Smith said of his team’s 12-11 record. “You’ve got to take that in context, because it could be a lot worse if we had weak-minded kids.”

Smith’s Big Ten Tournament championship team last year that sent several players to the Major League Baseball draft was 7-14 when conference play began.

The Hoosiers will open the Big Ten schedule when they face the Michigan Wolverines (13-9) in the first of a three-game series at 3:05 p.m. Friday.

Certainly, the winning record has to be a bit of a surprise for a team that lost four pitchers from a year ago. Additionally, the pitching staff’s expected ace sophomore

Blake Monar has been off the mound since the season-opener in San Diego after straining his rotator cuff.

“It’s an odd year, because the areas of deficiency for us right now, we can’t control,” Smith said. “We’re banged up big time on the mound, but that’s not something we can work on in practice.”

Sophomore pitcher Drew Leininger, with a conference-leading 1.22 ERA, just returned to the lineup for a three-inning outing in the Louisville game after a knee injury forced him out for more than one week.

As a result, the Hoosiers have had to rely on a lot of offense — something junior first baseman Jerrud Sabourin and sophomore outfielder Alex Dickerson have provided. Combined, they have totaled 59 RBI for the Hoosiers this season with batting averages that rank in the top five of all Big Ten players.

“We realize as a team that we’ve got to be solid defensively, we’ve got to throw strikes, because we’re not going to go and just mow through other teams’ orders,” Smith said. “They are probably going to be Donnybrooks and slugfests every time out.”

Despite falling in a heartbreaker to No. 8 Louisville on Tuesday, the Hoosiers have turned around a slow start to the season. In the last 10 games, IU has won seven times — though senior outfielder Michael Earley said he realizes the time to really shine is in conference play.

"The big picture is the Big Ten,” Earley said. “Hopefully everyone has the taste in the mouth and we can come out and get a few from Michigan.”

Freshman pitcher Walker Stadler will put his 3-2 record and 4.91 ERA on the line first for the Hoosiers in Friday’s contest against the Wolverines, while Michigan will counter with Alan Oaks and a 2.79 ERA on the mound.

“This team has a lot of character, a lot of heart and a lot of tough kids,” Smith said. “We will do whatever we have to do to try to find a way to win a game or two on the weekend.”

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe