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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosiers face first ranked opponent of season in Louisville

After dropping a pair of one-run games against East Tennessee State, the Hoosiers travel to Louisville, Ky., to take on the No. 14 Cardinals today.

It’s the first weekday game the Hoosiers play and begins a stretch of 10 games in 11 days.

Sophomore shortstop Dustin DeMuth said the short break between games is beneficial.

“We played with a lot more energy the last two games this weekend,” he said. “The quick turnaround will probably help us get our confidence back up. Hopefully, we can get two wins.”

The Cardinals are also the first ranked opponent the Hoosiers will face.

But freshman second baseman Chad Clark said current rankings mean little to him.

“We’re going to go about it the same as today and the other games we’ve been in,” Clark said. “We’re going to do what we can at the plate and try to shut down their offense.”

The Cardinals’ offense has scored at least six runs in six different games this season, thanks in part to senior Stewart Ijames. The Cardinals’ first baseman/right fielder paces his team with four home runs.

Opponents have hit five against the Hoosiers’ pitching staff.

Meanwhile, IU has averaged five runs a game, yet IU Coach Tracy Smith said consistency is lacking.

“We’re struggling offensively right now,” Smith said. “We’re asking these kids to get in there and be competitive out at the Division I level. That’s significant. We know we’re going to go through some growing pains early in the season because over a majority of our team are kids who’ve not played college baseball.”

In their last contest against East Tennessee State, Smith filled out a lineup card featuring six freshmen in the starting batting order.

”We’re trying to stay positive with everything and allow these kids a fair and reasonable time to make adjustments at this level without hitting a panic button,” Smith said. “That’s going to be our mantra over the next couple weeks so we have guys experienced and comfortable by the time we hit the Big Ten regardless of our record, because we are trying some different things and trying to figure out our personnel.”

His players are not panicking. DeMuth, for example, is hitting .051. He was a Freshman All-American last season and said there’s no need to be concerned about his average.

“I’m not too worried about it,” he said. “I need to focus on driving it the other way like I did last year. Things will come around here pretty soon.”

No matter their record, Smith said, the most important goal will be playing well when Big Ten season is upon them.

“These are going to be good opponents,” he said. “It’s going to be good for us to get some different pitchers out there that necessarily haven’t been pitching on the weekend, so we can be playing our best baseball as we get closer to the Big Ten.”

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