With the calendar turning to April, it’s officially baseball season. For Indiana, that means the focus shifts towards Big Ten Play, which begins at 5 p.m. Friday with a three-game series at home against Northwestern.
We have learned a lot about this team 23 games into this season, filled with ups and downs en route to a 10-13 record thus far.
Coming off of a 26-18 2021 campaign where an NCAA bid slipped through their fingertips, the Hoosiers lost A LOT of production to graduation, including their top three starting pitchers. Despite the losses, the team was quite busy in the transfer portal, and to this point several of them have made key impacts, while others are trying to see more time on the diamond.
Here’s what we know a month and a half into the 2022 season:
1) This team can hit the cover off the ball. In the month of March alone, Indiana reached double digits in runs eight times in just 17 games played. The main reason: Catcher Matthew Ellis, who has smacked 11 homers, tied for sixth in the country and the best among backstops in the NCAA. The Hoosiers’ hit-to-run ratio is quite low, but they are very patient, draw a plethora of base on balls and are aggressive on the basepaths. When they get on base, most of the time they end up coming around to score.
2) The bugaboo has been the bullpen. A big reason why this team is 2-8 in games decided by three runs or less is because of the pen. They’ve scored first in a lot of their games but have been unable to keep opponents off the scoreboard in the late innings. They are forced to use the same bullpen arms multiple times a week and teams who scout well can jump on the fatigued arms.
3) IU has a home-field advantage. Indiana is 7-4 at The Bart this season and has exploded for an average of over 10 runs offensively and for the most part has struck early and often. It’s a much different story away from home, as IU only averages five runs a game and has only scored 10+ runs once.
In summary, this team seemingly can’t find a way to win on the road, doesn’t win too many close games, and doesn’t have a very deep bench. A really smooth transition from basketball season, right?
Regardless of this rollercoaster ride, Indiana is 0-0 in Big Ten play with the hopes of having a winning record in conference play when Sunday evening rolls around against a Northwestern team that didn’t finish in the top half of the standings in the last decade. The Wildcats are 9-11 this season.