The Hoosiers are coming off two of their best seasons in school history, but are transitioning to a new coaching staff in 2015 – a transition that has not gone all that well. After reaching the College World Series for the first time in school history in 2013, Indiana earned a No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament last year, losing in the Regional final to Stanford. Despite returning five of their nine starters from last year, the Hoosiers are only 23-19 this year and on the verge of missing the Big Ten tournament.
This year’s Hoosiers squad ranks eighth in the Big Ten hitting (.271) and sixth in pitching (3.45). Offensively, they are led by fifth year senior Scott Donley. Donley is a two-time First Team All-Big Ten performer and has been a big-time run producer over his three years with Indiana. He’s a career .342 hitter.
Outside of Donley, the Hoosiers use a balanced attack. Seven of their starters are batting at least .266. While they aren’t a power-hitting team, they are in the top half of the league in slugging (.381) and have hit a fair amount of home runs (22).
Statistically, their weakness is fielding, where they rank tenth in the league.
However, the pitching staff is solid. They recently got back long-time starter Kyle Hart from Tommy John surgery and return some experienced and effective relievers. Indiana has four reliable relief options in Ryan Halstead (3.03), Scott Effross (2.95), Evan Bell (3.02) and Thomas Belcher (2.75), any of whom could start Sunday’s game.
FRIDAY AT 6:30 PM
So. RHP Mike Shawaryn (10-0, 1.52) vs. R-So. RHP Jake Kelzer (3-3, 3.04)
Shawaryn is looking to maintain his torrid streak on the mound. The righty is pitching the best baseball of his life and is making a claim to be the best pitcher in the nation. He enters Friday’s start on a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings and is running away with the strikeout crown in the Big Ten. Shawaryn is one of only two pitchers in the country with double-digit wins and looks to tie his own single-season wins record tonight.
Kezler is an interesting story because his was a rare two-sport college athlete. While redshirting from baseball in 2013, Kelzer was a key piece on Indiana’s swim team. A freestyle sprinter, Kelzer posted very competitive times in the Big Ten Championships but has since made the move to playing baseball exclusively. He was drafted by the Yankees as a draft-eligible redshirt freshman last year, when he struck out 44 batters in 31.2 innings. Kelzer also lettered in football in high school, which is less surprising than his swimming accolades, considering that Kelzer is 6-foot-8, 230 pounds.
SATURDAY AT 2 PM
R-Jr. Rob Galligan (2-2, 1.53) vs. R-Jr. LHP Kyle Hart (1-0, 2.16)
Galligan’s first career start was a ringing success. How does a career-high 10 strikeouts over a career-high seven innings sound? He held the Boilermakers to just five hits and got the all-important win. He’ll follow up the career day against a tougher Indiana lineup Saturday.
Hart is one of the most accomplished pitchers in Indiana history but is coming back from Tommy John surgery. The redshirt junior underwent surgery after throwing 35 innings last year. Saturday will be Hart’s fourth start since returning. He’s done well so far – 13 strikeouts and one walk in eight innings, but he will likely only throw a few innings against Maryland. In his career, Hart is 17-8 with a 2.94 ERA over 211 innings.
SUNDAY AT 11 AM
Jr. LHP Jake Drossner (0-1, 3.41) vs. TBD
Drossner will make his third Sunday start of the year in morning finale against Indiana. Drossner followed up a career day against Cal State Fullerton with a so-so outing at Purdue. He only allowed one earned run but failed to get through the fifth inning. Sunday’s start will be a telling test heading into the all-important Ohio State series next weekend.