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Monday, June 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Baseball faces Pac-12 teams

Despite an opening weekend that has the IU baseball team already embroiled in a three-game losing streak, IU Coach Tracy Smith said he sees no reason to worry about his team heading into a three-game slate this weekend.

As part of the inaugural Big Ten-Pac 12 Challenge, No. 10 IU will square off with Washington, Utah and No. 2 Oregon State on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The Hoosiers’ ninth-year coach said his team’s inability to practice outside due to a particularly harsh Indiana weather led to some early-season rust that was difficult to shake off.

“It’s a tendency early in the season, when you come outside for the first time, we’re going to be a little wild fright, you’re going to be jumpy,” Smith said.

“I think our guys were just that — were a little jumpy at the plate. I don’t like losing, certainly, but I’m not too worried about it.”

The Hoosiers are projected to start three left-handers during the weekend — reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and senior Joey DeNato, junior Kyle Hart and sophomore Will Coursen-Carr.

Smith said he will look to see more consistency from a pitching staff that allowed 16 walks to Texas Tech last weekend.

“I thought we were a little sloppy from the sense of just the consistency of strikes,” he said. “I think we had 15 walks or something on the weekend. A little sloppy on the mound.”

In that season-opening series in Lubbock, Tex., IU’s nationally-hyped offense sputtered, scratching across only eight runs after putting 6.7 runs per game on the scoreboard last season.

The No. 2 through No. 5 hitters in IU’s lineup — a group that includes preseason All-American juniors Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis — were held to 11-60 throughout the weekend, a .183 batting average.

Smith said IU’s offensive struggles don’t concern him, as the team was able to practice outside only once in the preseason.

“I’m not worried about us offensively, it’s one of those things,” he said. “I think we’ve got to get more time outside, get in a rhythm a little bit, but this team’s going to hit, so I’m not worried about them.”

Looming over the weekend’s first two games is Oregon State, who knocked IU out of the College World Series in 2013.

As the nation’s No. 2 team, the Beavers are the most highly-ranked opponent on the Hoosiers’ 2014 schedule. Smith said he won’t focus on the matchup.

“I think right now, our whole focus needs to be on Indiana and getting Indiana right and put together our good at-bats every time to the plate and our pitchers throwing strikes, not walking people,” he said.

He said the Hoosiers’ leadership will not allow their slow start to the season to affect them.

“Our guys are a confident group. It’s four baseball games, which is not going to change how we feel about that,” Smith said. “We’re just going to go out and keep going and doing what we do.

“I think if we do that, we concentrate on that and not worry about the other stuff, that at the end of the day we’ll be on the winning side of the ledger probably a lot more than the losing side.”

Follow reporter Alden Woods on Twitter @acw9293.

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