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Indiana’s Battery a Strong Point Heading into 2018

Ryan Fineman talks with the media a few weeks prior to the opening weekend of play. Fineman comes into his junior year as the starting catcher for the Hoosiers. (Josh Eastern)

There’s one thing that sticks out when looking at Indiana baseball in 2018.

The experience this team brings is close to unmatched. Then when looking at the pitching staff, it really stands out. The Hoosiers used seven different starters across their weekend and weekday games last season. Out of those seven pitchers, all of them return in 2018.

Coupling a pitching staff returning all of its starters along with junior catcher Ryan Fineman, who started 45 games last season, the Hoosiers can rely on their battery experience heading into 2018.

“To me, Ryan Fineman is one of the better catchers out there,” IU manager Chris Lemonis said. “Especially in the receiving, and the umpire relationship and our kids, I think he’s one of the keys to our team. I think our pitchers will tell you that.”

A season ago the pitching was a bit of a puzzle. Jonathan Stiever burst onto the scene as a sophomore and established himself as the Friday night starter. The Saturday and Sunday starters became a bit of a roller coaster, but that worked itself out in the end.

Pauly Milto moved from the bullpen and helped to solidify the bullpen. Then there was the emergence of guys like Cal Krueger and Tim Herrin who provided solid innings.

And helping all of those guys throughout the process was Fineman. Fast-forwarding to 2018, he said sees a lot veteran leaders in that group.

“Really mature pitching staff,” Fineman said. “Even the young guys have come along really quick. Coach (Kyle) Bunn has done a great job with them and I think they’re going to do really well this year.”

Fineman is a player that any team would love to have behind the dish. He has shown he can handle a pitching staff. This season, with a group that is a year older, he will be counted on to help them be a staple of what the Hoosiers can do.

But with a bat in his hands, the Hoosiers could be looking at Fineman for improvements. A season ago he hit .239 with two home runs and 17 RBIs. Coming into 2018, he’s not only looking to improve at the plate, but in all facets of his game.

“I’d love to hit well (and) catch well,” Fineman said. “I want to be able to handle this pitching staff, the younger guys too.”

Last season the Hoosiers were a two seed in the NCAA Tournament in the Lexington Regional. They didn’t make it out of that regional, but it was still a solid season for the Hoosiers.

Now in 2018, the Hoosiers are in a spot where they can aim a bit higher. They have been seen in a few preseason rankings and have the returners to make something happen.

But for Fineman, he’s aiming high and he wants the chance to do something only a few teams can do at the end of the season.

“Personally, I just want to win,” Fineman said. “I want to win the Big Ten. I haven’t been able to dog pile, that’s something we always talk about, so that’s a main goal.”

Josh Eastern

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: jeastern@thehoosiernetwork.com. Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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