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Indiana baseball offseason report: Hoosiers set to host two exhibitions this weekend

As the Hoosiers prepare for two exhibitions this weekend, we take a look at the program’s news and notes.

As we near the offseason’s halfway point, it’s as good a time as any to take a quick look at Chris Lemonis’s program and the news they’ve made in recent months.

Hoosiers set to host Bellarmine and conference foe Michigan State this weekend in exhibitions

In recent history, the Hoosiers have played a single Fall exhibition opponent in Xavier, but this weekend they’ll see two different teams. Friday night at 7 p.m., they’ll take on Division II Bellarmine. Then on Saturday, at 2:30 p.m., they’ll face the Spartans of Michigan State, giving the schools a baseball-football doubleheader.

With so much starting pitching gone from last year’s club (all three of the weekend starters), it will be interesting to see who Lemonis throws out to start. But you’d expect that one of the two starters will be Brian Hobbie, who, as the next note shows, may be primed for a big year for the Hoosiers.

Both exhibitions this weekend are open and free to the public. So, for those of you getting to Bloomington at about 6 a.m. to beat the traffic for the 8 p.m. kickoff against Sparty, go watch some baseball in the mid-afternoon.

Brian Hobbie named Prospect League Pitcher of the Year

No, it wasn’t the Cape Cod League, but still it’s nice to see anyone who will presumably take on a big role for the mostly inexperienced Indiana pitching staff get some accolades like this, no matter where they played. Playing for the Terre Haute Rex, Hobbie went 4-2 with a 0.82 ERA in eight starts. In half of those starts, he went at least seven innings.

Indiana will be counting on him having similar success as they try to fill the void left by the departures of Kyle Hart, Caleb Baragar, and Evan Bell.

12 other Indiana players also played summer ball.

Logan Sowers and Luke Miller both played in the prestigious Cape Cod League. Laren Eustace and B.J. Sabol played together for the Green Bay Bullfrogs in the Northwoods League. Paul Milto played in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Isaiah Pasteur played in the Cal Ripken Leauge. Eric Hansen played in the VAlley League. Scotty Bradley, Chandler Sedat, and Jonathan Stiever all played in the New England League. And Chris Lowe played in the Prospect League along with Hobbie for the Terre Haute Rex.

Recruiting Splashes

According to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Hoosiers landed the 28th best recruiting class in the country for 2016, and the top class of the Big Ten, coming in just ahead of Michigan at 29.

While the Hoosiers’ class includes Jake Matheny, son of Mike, and Matt Gorski, the Hamilton Southeastern product who Baseball America lists as a better pro prospect than Craig Dedelow (which has to excite fans about his future with the program), the class could have been even better if not for prized recruit Skylar Szynski deciding to forgo college and turn down his scholarship to Indiana after receiving a $1 million signing bonus from the Oakland Athletics.

Still though, these numbers are what Indiana fans had hoped Lemonis would bring to Bloomington after his track record of great recruiting at Louisville.

Former Indiana skipper Tracy Smith and his Arizona State Sun Devils sit at the top spot having brought in the single best recruiting class in the country.

The Schedule

It should be just a matter of time before we get to see the 2017 schedule. According to College Baseball Insider, the Hoosiers have no open dates, meaning the schedule is set.

After the 2016 season, which saw more cupcakes than baseball teams on the schedule and did the Hoosiers no favors in getting them ready for the Big Ten season or in forcing their way into the national conversation, we’ll be looking to see if Indiana has added any marquee series. Don’t expect to see Cal State Fullerton on the schedule for 2017, as the Hoosiers and Titans just played the second set of a home-and-home series in 2016. Also, as we have come to learn, you shouldn’t expect a series with either Notre Dame or Louisville. Despite the quality of those programs and their proximities to Bloomington, they just can’t seem to get anything more than a weekday game per season scheduled.

What you should expect is at least one early season showcase, such as the Snowbird Classic.

Crimson Quarry will have more baseball coverage when the 2017 schedule is released.