Indiana Daily Student

Lyon emerges as IU's newest threat

Sophomore Josh Lyon eyes a hit against Louisville on March 30 at Sembower Field. Lyon was named Big Ten co-Player of the Week on Monday.
Sophomore Josh Lyon eyes a hit against Louisville on March 30 at Sembower Field. Lyon was named Big Ten co-Player of the Week on Monday.

As the team watched the movie “61*” on the way back from last week’s game at Valparaiso, IU sophomore Josh Lyon jokingly compared himself to baseball legend and the film’s central character, Roger Maris.

Maris was known for his flash with a bat, but he was a regular person otherwise. That’s a style Lyon thinks he carries, and he answered accordingly when asked if he thought of himself as an exciting person.

“I guess not,” Lyon said.

The designated hitter’s performance during the weekend in a three-game sweep of Iowa, tough, certainly dazzled ­— something he’ll look to continue when the Hoosiers head to the University of Miami (Ohio) Tuesday for a 6 p.m. contest.

Against the Hawkeyes, Lyon batted an astounding .700 at the plate with four doubles and a home run. It raised his season line to a solid .400 and also earned him recognition as the Big Ten’s co-Player of the Week.

Lyon seemed to shrug off the honor.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get it because a lot of guys on our team had great weekends,” Lyon said. “But it’s cool. This is my first Big Ten award.”

Had the Big Ten not honored Lyon, his coach just might have. The designated hitter’s spot in the rotation struggled at the start of the season before picking up.

“It’s big for us because it doesn’t allow the opposition to pitch around Dickerson and gives him a little better of a chance to get some pitches to hit,” IU coach Tracy Smith said. “That’s been a big reason we’ve turned it up offensively since spring.”

Since the team’s spring trip to Florida for a week full of games, Lyon is batting .511, getting on base in 54 percent of his at-bats and has an in-conference slugging percentage at 1.000 to lead all Big Ten batters.

Sophomore Alex Dickerson, an outfielder, bats clean-up just ahead of Lyon and has totaled 16 home runs in 2010 to lead the conference and put him near the top of national lists.

The Hoosiers will need Lyon and the rest of its often-potent offense Tuesday at Miami. Thanks to the season-long theme of being shorthanded on the mound, Smith plans to trot several pitchers to the mound and didn’t even know who would be starting when asked Monday.

“The mid-week games are always going to be a challenge for us because of our pitching situation,” Smith said.

That challenge is so deep that Smith doesn’t look at the Miami game — a non-conference tilt — as a must-win for his squad, which has won four straight. To him, conference wins mean more at this point.

“We want to win, certainly,” Smith said. “But it’s not a life-or-death situation for us with our pitching because we’ll just try to make sure we’re good to go on the weekend.”

It also marks another return trip for Smith to the previous school where he coached and his alma mater, posting a 317-220-1 record during his tenure as the RedHawks skipper.

“We’ve not played well every time we’ve gone over there, and I like to joke around that I’m making my annual contribution to the Red & White club,” Smith said.  “Hopefully, we won’t be making a contribution this year, and we’ll be taking something from them.”

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