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Indiana Baseball set to open season at Sanderson Ford Baseball Classic: Preview

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The Hoosiers will open with the daunting task of facing the #8 team in the country.

Alex Krupa waits for a pitch.

Game Info

Who: Indiana Hoosiers vs. #8 Oregon State Beavers

Where: Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz.

When: Friday, February 17, 12:00 p.m. ET

Probable Starters: Indiana - Indiana - Jonathan Stiever, RPH (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Oregon State - Luke Heimlich, LHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Listen | Watch | Stats | @HoosierBaseball | @BeaverBaseball


Who: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Where: Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz.

When: Friday, February 17, 4:00 p.m. ET

Probable Starters: Indiana - Tim Herrin, LPH (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Gonzaga - Eli Morgan RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Listen | Watch | Stats | @HoosierBaseball | @GonzagaBaseball


Who: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Where: Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz.

When: Sunday, February 19, 3:30 p.m. ET

Probable Starters: Indiana - Andrew Saalfrank, LPH (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Gonzaga - Mac Lardner LHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Listen | Watch | Stats | @HoosierBaseball | @GonzagaBaseball


Who: Indiana Hoosiers vs. #8 Oregon State Beavers

Where: Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz.

When: Monday, February 20, 1:00 p.m. ET

Probable Starters: Indiana - Brian Hobbie, RPH (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Oregon State - TBA

Listen | Watch | Stats | @HoosierBaseball | @BeaverBaseball


Preview

The 2017 season is already off to an odd start. Indiana was scheduled to open its season with Gonzaga on Friday evening, before facing Duke, Gonzaga again, and Oregon State over the next three days. But the teams announced late Thursday night that the weekend schedule had changed.

Duke’s program provided more information and indicated that concerns about weather out west scrubbed Saturday’s games.

So now, after preparing to open with a solid Gonzaga program, the Hoosiers will battle in its opener with #8 Oregon State. Indiana’s matchup with the Pac-12 favorites will mark the second time the programs have tangled since the 2013 College World Series, where the Beavers ended the Hoosiers’ best season in school history in a 1-0 classic. In 2014, in this same event, Oregon State handed the Hoosiers their fifth loss of the first seven games. Indiana would go on that season be win 43 games and earn a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, demonstrating that how you start is not necessarily vital to your résumé.

But still, the first weekend of 2017 season offers a fresh start for the Hoosiers, who failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years last season, as well as ample opportunity to start in grand fashion with two matchups against a top-10 opponent and two against a 2016 NCAA qualifier.

Oregon State barely missed out on tournament action last year, despite posting a 35-19 season, but is projected to win the Pac-12, host a regional, and potentially find their way to Omaha.

As for Gonzaga, they had a banner year in 2016, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament before bowing out at the hands of nationally seeded TCU and Arizona State.

Nonetheless, Indiana headed to Surprise with confidence that they can score with anybody. Junior outfielder Logan Sowers thinks that Indiana has a lineup that will give other teams trouble from top-to-bottom.

“It’s awesome to not have to really rely on your first 4 or 5 hitters,” Sowers said. “We feel like we have a really strong lineup one through nine.” Sowers was named to the Big Ten’s preseason Honors list this past Wednesday, along with fellow outfielder Craig Dedelow and infielder Luke Miller.

Indiana’s head man Chris Lemonis is also optimistic about his team, but recognizes that the schedule, which includes 18 games against NCAA Tournament teams from 2016 and battles with a handful of ranked foes, is formidable.

“We take a lot of pride in putting together a strong schedule to challenge our club. We will have the opportunity to travel the country this year,” Lemonis said. “It will be a fun schedule but a very challenging schedule for our guys.” Those challenges begin immediately, as this weekend presents perhaps the four toughest non-conference games the Hoosiers will play all season, save Louisville.

The Hoosiers will take the field to kickoff the season at 12:00 p.m. ET today, 10:00 a.m. locally in Surprise.


What to Expect

It’s hard to know what to expect, honestly. Indiana’s offense is talented and experienced, but on opening weekend will hitters be ahead of pitchers? Can Indiana’s young arms shut down three quality opponents over four games? And perhaps most important, how wacky will these games get once teams are using their 13th or 14th pitchers of the weekend because no one’s arm is ready to go more than three or four innings? No one can truthfully answers these questions, so, perhaps for the only time all season, there is nothing to expect.

The change to the weekend schedule may affect the availability of game audio, especially for either of Friday’s games. However, @HoosierBaseball has confirmed that live stats will be available throughout the weekend.