Indiana baseball will return to playing non-conference opponents during the 2022 season after only playing Big Ten Conference teams during the 2021 season due to COVID-19.
Reverting back to the typical non-conference schedule means the Hoosiers will face ranked opponents from other Power Five conferences, such as the Southeastern Conference and the Pacific-12 Conference, for the first time since Feb. 2020.
Indiana will also play regularly scheduled mid-week games. This marks another change from the 2021 season, where games were primarily played on the weekends.
"It is a huge benefit to be able to play a non-conference schedule early, to play mid-week games, and to really build and prepare a team for the last month or six weeks (of the season)," head coach Jeff Mercer said in media availability Wednesday.
Indiana will compete in the Karbach Round Rock Classic from Feb. 25-27 in Round Rock, Texas, in a three-game round-robin event. The Hoosiers will face two preseason Top 10 teams in No. 2 University of Arkansas and No. 6 Stanford University, according to D1Baseball.
Before traveling to Texas, Indiana will drive to South Carolina to take on Clemson University this weekend in a three-game season-opening series. The Tigers finished with a 25-27 record overall last season and went 16-20 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
Indiana lost its three top starting pitchers to the Major League Baseball draft over the summer, leaving questions as to who would fill their roles. Mercer announced on Wednesday junior right-handed pitchers John Modugno and Jack Perkins would start this Friday and Saturday. The Sunday starter has not been announced.
"It feels amazing," Modugno said. "A lot of guys that came before me taught me how to go at it and go out there and compete."
Modugno mainly worked out of the bullpen last season and has big shoes to fill on Friday.
Perkins is one of eight incoming transfers. Perkins transferred from the University of Louisville and made 11 appearances with one start and also earned one win and one save last season.
"Jack is definitely a different personality than me, probably not as funny or good-looking, but I definitely trust him going out there," Modugno said. "I've seen him put in the work, and I know what he can do. I definitely know he's got my back and I got his back."
Senior right-handed pitcher Bradley Brehmer is another pitching addition and recent transfer from Wright State University. Perfect Game ranked him No. 65 in the country in the 2022 senior class. Senior infielder Phillip Glasser, a transfer from Youngstown State University, was also ranked No. 15 in the senior class.
Glasser and West Virginia University graduate transfer Tyler Doanes played in the middle infield during this week's practices, and both can be expected to be in the opening day lineup. Their speed should also place them toward the top of the batting order.
“That bond is really important (in the middle infield), and I think that we’re gonna have a great bond and do a great job up the middle,” Doanes said.
The Hoosiers will play their home opener March 1 against Miami University. In its 55-game regular-season schedule, Indiana plays 24 games in Bloomington, including an 11-game homestand from March 15–April 3.
The final series in the homestand will be Indiana’s conference-opening series against Northwestern. Other conference series include Purdue, Rutgers, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and, most notably, Nebraska.
Indiana last won the Big Ten in 2019. After tying for fourth place and missing the postseason in 2021, the team is trying to achieve a conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance with a relatively new cast of characters under Mercer in 2022.
“I think we fit well together. We all came from places,” Doanes said. “Coach Mercer calls us the ‘land of the misfits.’ We all left somewhere else, and we have come together off of that. We all just want to play baseball and get better and that's where we bond.”