After being ranked No. 17, IU baseball’s preseason expectations will be tested immediately as the Hoosiers' season begins on Friday.
First pitch for the Hoosiers will come against the No. 18 Oklahoma Sooners at Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Feb. 16.
IU is aware of the importance of high RPI games at the end of the season to better its chances to get into the NCAA Tournament.
“These games are really important to us,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “These are RPI games. We schedule this way because we feel like we have to play the best in the country."
Following the matchup with the Sooners, IU will play on Saturday against Kansas State.
Then the Hoosiers will head to Conway, South Carolina, to play against South Alabama and 2016 champion Coastal Carolina Feb. 18-19.
There has been uncertainty in regards to which pitchers will get the nod in the starting rotation. Lemonis has decided junior Jonathan Stiever will start against Oklahoma, while junior Pauly Milto will start against Kansas State.
The pitchers for the remaining two games have yet to be determined.
“It’s a good problem to have, there’s just a lot of competition for those guys,” Lemonis said. “We’re TBA right now just because we’re trying to figure out the matchup with our last two opponents.”
IU has 91 percent of the innings pitched from 2017 returning this season. The Hoosiers hope the extra experience can lead to improvement.
“We’re pretty confident going into the season that we have that experience,” Milto said. “There should be great upside to the upcoming season.”
With numerous players coming and going after the 2017 season, IU will have many opportunities to change its lineup around throughout the season.
“Our right side will interchange, our DH will interchange and some of those areas that we have out there will bounce around,” Lemonis said. “I do have some good players that aren’t playing every day and they could play every day at another program right now.”
The Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach is part of the 11 neutral field and road games the Hoosiers will play before their home opener March 7 against Cincinnati.
For the players, however, the long stretch on the road is nothing new.
“It’s something we’ve dealt with our whole lives,” junior utility player Matt Lloyd said. “We’re ready and everyone’s just excited to go there and play.”