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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Leininger, Dickerson top Big Ten charts while leading IU


Two years ago, sophomore outfielder Alex Dickerson and sophomore pitcher Drew Leininger were playing for Poway High School in San Diego, Calif., a team that has produced eight Division-I players in the last two years.

They led the team to a 31-6 record as the top team in the state.  

Two years after signing letters of intent at IU in 2008, they are both widely considered to be among the top finishers in this year’s Big Ten Hitter and Pitcher of the Year awards.

“I thought we’d both do well,” Dickerson said. “With the way we played back in high school, I thought we really had room to improve and continue to get better.”
Leininger is leading the Big Ten in ERA and opposing batting average while Dickerson is leading in slugging percentage, RBIs, home runs and total bases.

But what started out as a simple visit from IU coach Tracy Smith to see Dickerson play turned into the Hoosiers getting more than they originally planned. Smith asked
Dickerson if there was anyone else he thought he should take a look at, and the outfielder immediately recommended Leininger.

“We didn’t look at it like a package deal,” Smith said. “They were two separate scenarios. It wasn’t like if we got one, we’re getting the other. I liked what I saw out of Drew and thought he was a good fit for our program — both as a pitcher and as a person.”

Asking an 18-year-old to go to school clear across the country — asking him to leave friends and family behind and, in this case, play in a completely different environment than Southern California — is no easy task. Luckily for the Hoosiers, Smith was not the only one convincing Leininger to play at IU.

“Alex was telling me about all the great things about IU,” Leininger said. “Things like how great the atmosphere is and how coach plays “Call of Duty.” So, I finally took a visit and decided this was the place I wanted to be.”

Halfway through their second year in Bloomington, both have made college baseball their lives. Dickerson and Leininger are currently roommates and helped each other transition when they first arrived.

“It helps with the homesickness when you can talk to each other about what’s going on back at home and the drama back there,” Leininger said.

That is not to say the transition has been the easiest, as home is more than 2,000 miles away from Bloomington, but Smith praised the character of both young men and knew they wouldn’t have too much difficulty fitting in.

“They’re as good of students and citizens as they are baseball players,” Smith said. “I said this to my son, Casey, the other day: ‘You know how many times I have tell Dickerson and Leininger to straighten up? Never.’ They’re both very low maintenance and first-class human beings.”

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