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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosier pitching staff gains maturity in preparation for 2012

Maturity.

For senior pitcher Chad Martin, it has been the biggest difference between this year’s offseason training and how he prepared for a season in previous years.

“My main focus was to come into this year stronger, more in shape and to be more mentally tough this year,” Martin said.

After his first 36 innings of the season ranked Martin in the top 15 in the nation in terms of ERA, Martin said he allowed the early season success to go to his head a little bit, which prevented the 6-foot-7 right-hander from reaching his full potential.

“I came in and was viewed differently from all the other newcomers because I was a junior college transfer, so I guess I had more of a sense of being the first choice for some things, but it doesn’t work this way, and it was immaturity,” Martin said.

In Big Ten play, Martin went 1-5 with a 4.43 ERA in five starts and nine overall appearances. In the 40.2 innings he pitched, Martin only recorded 12 strikeouts, while allowing a .280 batting average against and 42 hits.

Martin said his poor conference performances, including giving up a walk-off home run to Illinois’ Matt Dittman in the final game of the season, motivated his offseason
workouts.

“I really did stink it up in Big Ten play, and that ate at me all season and made me work harder so that didn’t happen again,” Martin said. “I don’t want to be the one to end our season this year.”

IU Coach Tracy Smith said he has seen the difference in Martin. He said Martin has made the most progress out of anyone in the program this year.

“Where Chad Martin was the first time he sat on our couch as a recruit to where his confidence level is now, he has really carried that over to the mound and has made a huge jump,” Smith said.

Part of Martin’s maturity has come with understanding his role on the team.

As a senior, Martin said he has tried to help instill a good work ethic into the younger pitchers in the rotation who look up to him by leading through example.

“I’m not really the vocal leader of the staff, but I try to lead by example by doing the small things,” Martin said. “The small things are what get you through a season and makes you successful.”

With Martin favored by Smith to be one of the three opening weekend starters, the Lexington, Ky., native said he appreciates his opportunity to lead a staff that is good enough to start as many as eight or nine different pitchers.

“We are blessed with a lot of pitchers that have stamina and good stuff that could potentially step up if other pitchers get hurt,” Martin said. “I would say we have about eight or nine people that can start for us, which is going to help us for our midweeks this year.”

Scouting the staff
Besides Martin, Smith has an abundance of arms.

The pitching depth — possibly eight or nine different pitchers can receive starts this year — will be one of the upgrades from last season, players said.

Lefty senior Drew Leininger has been exciting the rest of the staff during early preseason practices with a slider Chad Martin said looks “nasty.” Leininger went 4-3 with a 5.65 ERA last year in eight starts and 14 appearances while still recovering from a knee injury. With a full offseason, Leininger said he is ready for a strong finish to his IU career.

Another pitcher coming off injury who Smith is excited about is 6-foot-10, 245-pound sophomore Aaron Slegers. Slegers pitched one inning in his freshman season before getting hit in the forearm with a line drive.

Fellow sophomore Joey DeNato recorded a 7-3 record and a team-low 2.80 ERA in 64.1 innings pitched.

While DeNato will not be surprising anyone this year, Smith said DeNato is the type of player he doesn’t worry about once DeNato gets between the lines.

“Joey is a gamer,” Smith said. “Once those bright lights come on, he is a competitor.”
Rounding out the starting staff could be sophomore Matt Dearden, sophomore Brian Korte and freshman Kyle Hart. All three pitchers should make their way into the rotation at some point in the year.

Although the Hoosiers will utilize a three-man rotation, expect Smith to mix and match throughout the season to find the right combination.

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