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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Baseball squad plays last road game against Eastern Kentucky before Big Ten season begins

IU Coach Tracy Smith and his players have said their focus is playing their best baseball when Big Ten games begin.

The home-and-home series today and tomorrow against Eastern Kentucky marks the Hoosiers’ final two opportunities to improve before Big Ten play begins this weekend.

Three days after their spring break trip to California, the Hoosiers will make the trek to Richmond, Ky., to play the Colonels. Their second game will be their 10th game in 12 days.

“Prepare like every game matters, because they all do,” junior center fielder Justin Cureton said. “We’re trying to build up. We had a rough start to the season. Right now, we’re trying to focus and get our good stretch going on into the Big Ten.
Smith said he told his team after its games in California to maintain focus on the conference season.

“Keep an eye on what’s really important, which is figuring out our team and being ready by conference,” he said.

Freshman third baseman Sam Travis said Smith emphasized his team improving its play defensively.

“He’s definitely talked about defense improving,” Travis said. “Defense just has to get better. Right now, I think we got two or three errors a game. That just can’t happen. That takes us out of ball games right away and doesn’t even give (us) a chance with our bats.”

Smith moved Cureton to the leadoff spot before the Hoosiers’ game against Indiana State. In seven of the eight games against Southern California opponents, he batted leadoff.

Counting the game against the Sycamores on Wednesday, Cureton has batted .303 and drawn three walks in eight games from the leadoff spot.

“It’s better than what we’ve had,” Smith said. “He still needs to be better at it. The fact that he’s getting on base a little bit, it’s good for him. It’s also good for us.”

Cureton said his job is to get on base regardless of his place in the order.

“(My) approach doesn’t change,” he said. “My role on the team is to get on base, steal bases, make things happen on the base paths and score runs for my team. Ninth, or first, or third, or fifth—it doesn’t matter where I am. I need to get on base and make plays on the base paths.”

The Colonels are one game removed from a 22-2 loss to Bowling Green State on Saturday. That does not matter to Smith.

“We’ve just got to worry about how we’re playing,” he said. “We’re making quite a few errors and not playing good baseball right now. Our focus is going to be on what we need to be better.”

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