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Thursday, May 30
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Smith looks for team to continue consistency at plate in Muncie

IU baseball coach Tracy Smith is starting to like what he’s seeing at the plate.
Smith expressed the need for more timely, consistent production at bat during last week’s eight-game stretch in Lakeland and Winter Haven, Fla.

The Hoosiers responded with 32 runs on 48 hits during their final four contests. IU (12-7) needs to carry its improved hitting back into the normal routine of the season, starting with a matchup against Ball State at 3 p.m. today in Muncie.

“I thought we made better adjustments towards the end of the week and started better approaches, and I think the results indicated that as well,” Smith said. “We’re still waiting to put all those pieces together, but if guys continue to make those adjustments, work on those things, the pitching and the defense, I feel pretty comfortable, are going to be there.

“But I was pleased. Truthfully, I was pleased as the week went on that we were doing more of what we were supposed to be doing offensively.”

The Hoosiers have been aiming to do so throughout the young season, striving for the production that made them the Big Ten’s top hitting team a year ago. IU currently finds itself fifth in the conference in total batting.

Similarly, junior outfielder Alex Dickerson seems to have found his 2010 self again.
The All-American and Big Ten Triple Crown winner recorded two or more hits in five of IU’s eight games last week, including three home runs — two in a 10-7 win against Dartmouth — and nine RBI en route to his first Big Ten Player of the Week honor of 2011.

“We were waiting for him to get going a little bit,” Smith said. “He’s a good hitter and a proven hitter and one of the best hitters in the country, so I don’t think it was something that was totally surprising. It was just a matter of time for him to get comfortable and start feeling his swing a little bit.”

With a return to Indiana for today’s bout with the Cardinals as well as for a home-and-away weekend series with Evansville, the focus on consistency at the plate has not changed.

What also will not change much, Smith said, is the  lineup.

The Hoosiers plan to employ the same groups of men for both midweek and weekend games. Junior pitcher Drew Leininger, who started midweek two weeks ago against Indiana State, will get the nod once again today.

“We’ll see where we are defensively, but we’re going to run with our guys out there that give us the best chance to win,” Smith said. “The thing I like is we have depth, but it’s like now, we’ve kind of got our lineup set.

“We’re going to roll with that and make substitutions as games dictate, but we’re not going through this experimental phase now. We’re kind of locking in, and let’s roll with it and try to play as well as we can.”

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