WHAT: 2015 First Pitch Invitational. Part of the BB&T College Baseball at Fluor Field, the event is hosted by the Greenville Drive, a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and member of the South Atlantic league.
WHO: Indiana, Xavier Musketeers, Presbyterian Blue Hose, and Furman Paladins. The four teams will play a round robin, with each team playing one game on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Indiana will face Presbyterian on Friday at 12PM, Furman on Saturday at 5PM, and Xavier on Sunday at 11AM.
Presbyterian Blue Hose: Indiana's first opponent is coming off a 19-34 season in 2014, when they failed to qualify for the Big South Conference baseball tournament. Presbyterian started this season with a 4-game sweep of Delaware State, scoring 34 runs. But the Blue Hose simply didn't see the kind of pitchers that they will in Effross, Morris and co. Perfect Game picked Presbyterian to finish 5th in its 6-team division of the Big South and fail to qualify for the conference tournament. They also failed to select any Presbyterian players to is preseason All-Conference team.
Furman Paladins: Furman went 26-33 in 2014, finishing 7th in the Southern Conference, which is where Perfect Game has predicted they'll finish again. They are currently 1-3 this season after losing 2 of 3 against Akron and then dropping a midweek game to South Carolina. 3B Chris Ohmsteded hit .310 with 10 HRs and 47 RBIs last season, and was a preseason All-Conference selection.
Xavier Musketeers: Xavier will be the only familiar opponent for the Hoosiers this weekend. The clubs met for an exhibition in the Fall (Xavier won 4-2) and last season in the home opener at the Bart (Indiana won 2-1). Xavier went 30-29 last season and qualified for the NCAA tournament after winning the Big East tournament. They played in the Vanderbilt regional, lost their opening game to the eventual champs, picked up a win against Clemson, but were then eliminated by by Oregon. Perfect Game projects the Musketeers to finish 4th this season in the Big East and lists the leader of their batter, C Dan Rizzie as a preseason All-Conference selection.
OUTLOOK: The Hoosiers should outclass Presbyterian and Furman and roll through Friday and Saturday's matches. The one with Xavier is a bit of a tossup, however. The Musketeers bring NCAA tournament experience and have split their last two games (although the one Xavier won was the exhibition) with IU. If this game was on Friday, the Hoosiers would be a clear favorite with Effross starting. But being a Sunday start with Sunday starters, it would be a stretch to say that Indiana should sweep the event with ease. I expect them to take all three games, but wouldn't be overly surprised if Xavier pulled one out of Sunday.
Live stats for the Presbyterian and Xavier games can be found at iuhoosiers.com. The Southern Conference will have live feed of the Furman game on Saturday here.