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Sunday, Feb. 25
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Huskers hope to sheer Hoosiers' title hopes

Fifty-nine miles away from the University of Nebraska’s Hawks Field at Haymarket Park is TD Ameritrade Park, the site of the 2013 College World Series. The No. 17 Hoosiers (34-8, 11-4), for their penultimate Big Ten road series, will be about an hour away from the location of item No. 2 on their list of preseason goals.

Nebraska, at 20-23 overall, enters this series tied with the Hoosiers for second place in the Big Ten at 11-4. The Cornhuskers also pace the conference with a .982 fielding percentage. Senior shortstop Michael Basil said the Huskers’ good defense means the Hoosiers will have to be on their best game because Nebraska is not going to surrender many easy runs.
 
IU Coach Tracy Smith said the health of sophomore catcher Kyle Schwarber — whether he will catch or be the designated hitter — is a day-to-day process.

“I might try to get a game back there, I’m not sure yet,” the Middletown, Ohio, native said. “I’m trying to get my knee back to where I can get down and block again. It feels good going down and squatting.”

Whether Schwarber is a part of the battery or the designated hitter, the complexion of the lineup changes little.

“I feel like we’re a really mature lineup,” Schwarber said. “You can go one through nine, and see that all of us are taking good at-bats. It hasn’t really changed since I’ve been the DH. We got a good thing going right now.”

Final exams meant no midweek contests for the Hoosiers to gain or lose momentum: their eight-game winning streak is intact. Smith said it has probably been beneficial that his team has had to focus on academics.

“Guys can get away from it a little bit,” he said. “We’ll get everyone regrouped again (Friday) before we head off to Nebraska. Sometimes I think it’s good where they can get away from it and get that hungry feeling back again.”

That the Huskers lost three of four games last weekend at the TD Ameritrade Classic is not that big of a deal to IU because they are worried about themselves, Basil said.

The Hoosiers stand .17 percentage points behind first-place Minnesota. That the Gophers’ series against Michigan State was cancelled two weeks ago is immaterial, Smith said.

“I could care less about what everybody else is doing as long as we just worry about Indiana University is doing and taking care of business, we still can win the conference,” Smith said. “There’s nothing we can do to change it now. We’re just going to play our next opponent and focus on that.

“If you’re taking care of business and trying to win every baseball game, and do what you’re supposed to in each individual baseball game, then that series hopefully takes care of itself,” the eighth-year IU head coach said. “I understand the ramifications if we don’t play well.”

Basil said he anticipates the opportunity to play in that environment.

“It’s a huge series, especially going to Nebraska,” he said. “They bring a lot of fans every year. It’s going to be exciting. I’ve always heard a lot of good things about playing there. It’s going to say a lot about both teams. It’s the biggest series in the Big Ten this weekend. It’s really huge for what we want to do this season.”

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