Speaking of Miami, and before we get into the article, anyone writing about college baseball would be remiss if they did not mention the efforts of Miami Hurricanes senior pitcher Javi Salas, who went 27 up, 27 down in the University of Miami's second-ever perfect game. State of the U has an excellent write-up on the historic evening at Mark Light Field, and it's linked for those interested.
And while I can confirm that Miami is feeling the effects of this latest winter storm (temperatures have plunged as low as 62 in the mornings), they definitely haven't had this issue out in front of their home opener:
Anybody in Bloomington with a snow shovel, please bring to Kaufman Field. We need to borrow it. Seriously.— Tracy Smith (@HoosierBaseball) March 4, 2014
The Skipper, himself, putting out a plea to the Bloomington public to show up at the Bart with a snow shovel and help get the field game-ready. The field was cleared nicely and the Hoosiers were able to get a practice in ahead of today's home opener (first pitch, 4:05 PM, all other information here.) The good news is: the temperatures will be above freezing. The bad news is: not by much. Temps should be around 34 degrees when the game starts, but at least the wind will be light?
It must be frustrating for a team like Indiana, to spend the first month of the season gallivanting about the southwest to play baseball games because it's too cold to start the season at home, and, then, when your home opener finally arrives, you spend the day before shoveling snow off of it. That said, looking over the twitter feeds of Tracy Smith and the players, the mindset is positive and they're ready to play in any conditions. It's important to remember that, whatever the conditions are, both teams have to deal with them.
Let us take inspiration from catcher / slugger / base-stealing stallion Kyle Schwarber:
We put in work on the field for Hoosier Nation to come check us out tomorrow! Now let's get a turn out tomorrow! #GameOn— kschwarb12 (@kschwarb12) March 4, 2014
Lefty Kyle Hart (0-1, 6.75 ERA) will be on the bump for the Hoosiers against a 5-3 Xavier team that also has yet to play a home game. Their lineup contains a couple lefties up top but is otherwise right-hand heavy and should present an excellent challenge for Hart, who will be looking to get his season on track. He hasn't gone more than 4 innings in either of his starts and hasn't made a start since February 22nd. He did pitch a perfect 9th inning of relief (including two strikeouts) in the Hoosiers' win over Toledo last Saturday.
Xavier will counter with right-hander Eric Steine who will be making his first start of the season. The Hoosiers are certainly the favorite in this game, but the Musketeers have already gone out to Chapel Hill and taken a game from 21st ranked UNC, making them fully capable of coming in and spoiling our home opener.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: If you're interested in filling your evening with Hoosier sports, that ticket you possess for tonight's basketball tilt against Nebraska will get you into this afternoon's baseball game FOR FREE.