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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU looks to improve defense heading into Louisville rematch

Hoosiers v Spartans

Coming off a weekend that ended with IU getting swept in Sunday’s doubleheader with Michigan State, the Hoosier baseball team will be back in action Tuesday against the Louisville Cardinals.

Tuesday’s game will be a rematch of the March 6 matchup between the teams. In the first meeting, Louisville clubbed 15 hits and scored 13 runs to bury the Hoosiers 13-4.

This time around, the Hoosiers’ pitching staff will need to do a better job attacking the aggressive Cardinal offense, as the Cardinals will enter the game with a .315 team batting average and a .437 team slugging percentage.

IU Coach Tracy Smith said one of the biggest issues the Hoosiers will need to address on the mound will be consistency from game-to-game.

“From a pitching standpoint, we need to figure out a way to be more competitive,” Smith said. “We need some other guys to step up and to be more consistent. That’s the biggest thing we are missing — consistency.”

While Smith searches for consistency from his staff, he said the decision of who will be on the mound against Louisville will probably be made right before the game and will take into account that the pitching staff worked a lot over the weekend.

“We will probably piece together (the pitching staff) because we have some guys banged up right now,” Smith said. “My mindset right now is obviously we want to win every midweek game, but I think we have to look big picture because we are so limited personnel-wise.”

Junior first baseman Trace Knoblauch, who launched his first career home run Sunday against Michigan State, said it will be hard to get the doubleheader sweep out of their minds but that the team can learn from the losses.

“These games are hard to put behind us because of how much they meant,” Knoblauch said. “We need to improve upon the mental side of the game so we can limit other teams early on and make them earn everything they get.”

IU is leading the Big Ten in errors (79) by committing 28 more than the second-worst Big Ten team (Michigan) in that category while also committing 44 more errors than its opponents.

In fact, errors played a role in the first meeting between Louisville and IU as the Hoosiers committed five errors in that contest.

Smith said his team’s struggles on the defensive side of the ball make it hard for the manager to know what to expect day-in and day-out.

“From a manager’s standpoint, you try to at least have an idea of what you are going to get,” Smith said. “We are so up and down right now that it is frustrating for me.”

Regardless of the team’s pitching and defensive woes, Smith said the IU offense, which ranks third in the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.400) and fifth in hits (323), has the ability to carry the team on off-days but needs to be more consistent with runners in scoring position.

“We haven’t done a good job with runners on base all year, but you can still find ways to win games despite of that,” Smith said. “We make it tough on ourselves when we make the errors and fall behind hitters, so we need to get better at it because it’s a constant struggle.”

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