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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

After years of lobbying, ground to be broken on new baseball field

As announced Feb. 15, the new baseball facilities were named after student athlete alumnus Bart Kaufman. After years of anticipation, University officials said they hope to break ground on Bart Kaufman Field in early May.

IU Coach Tracy Smith has lobbied for new facilities for years.

“It’s going to be huge because it’s going to add a sense of professionalism to what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Kids these days like the frills. When you have a new stadium and the amount of money that we’re investing, I think people are going to be really, really impressed with this.”

For the Indiana baseball team’s seven juniors, it’s another thing to consider when deciding upon their futures in the game. Center fielder Justin Cureton, second baseman Micah Johnson and shortstop Michael Basil are all eligible for the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, according to mlb.com.

Johnson, the team’s lone preseason All-American, spent the first five games as the designated hitter before deciding to undergo surgery on his elbow. His surgery took place March 7. Though it was successful, it has limited him to the roles of pinch runner and, more importantly, mentor to a team with many freshmen.

“(We’re) going in the right direction,” Johnson said. “These kids are young. Playing a lot of freshmen, my injury and some other injuries have forced (them) to play right away. ... We’re probably hitting a stride.

“Not being able to play is really tough, but I’ve accepted my role of helping these kids out.”

Basil said he hasn’t decided on his future yet as the 2012 campaign has yet to be completed. Another factor in his decision, though, would be the new stadium.

“I would say yes, probably,” Basil said. “I haven’t really been looking into the draft that much. I’m thinking about coming back regardless. Having that stadium is definitely going to play a big role in it because you want to have a chance to play in that.

“I remember getting recruited here. We were told about the stadium, and that was one of the big reasons why I wanted to come here. Being able to have a season on that would be fun.”

The potential development of this team will be a big factor in Basil’s decision too, he said.

“I think we’re going to have an unbelievable team next year,” he said. “We have a chance to make a run at the Big Ten Tournament this year, and next year I think we’ll be one of the favorites in the Big Ten.”

Johnson said he is not looking that far ahead. Instead, he’s thinking about this
year’s team.

“If it happens, it happens,” Johnson said. “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. If you start thinking about it and worrying about it, then you get away from the team. Right now, I’m just focused on the team. We’re still in the Big Ten hunt, and that’s all I really care about at this point.”

Johnson said new facilities would make an impact.

“It’d be nice,” he said. “Sembower’s always been good to me. A field’s a field. It’s going to be really nice for recruiting. We have a locker room up there and an indoor hitting facility. That’s really going to develop kids. If they get bored one night, you can just go over there and hit.”

IU recruits against some successful programs with very good people, Smith said.

“We always say we build our program around people, but I’d be a fool to think facilities don’t impact recruiting at some level,” Smith said. “The one thing (other schools) have that we don’t is a nice facility. I think it’s going to put us all on the same level.

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