This past Friday, sophomore Jonathan Stiever took the mound for his fifth career start and his first as the Friday starter. Stiever also took the mound against the seventh best team in the country, Oregon State. With that in mind, Stiever didn’t seem rattled.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” said Stiever. “Just a normal start.”
Over the course of 5.2 innings, Stiever held Oregon State to only three hits while retiring nine-straight.
Indiana ended up losing that game 1 to 0, but not to the fault of Stiever who was able to pitch beyond his experience.
“He was really good, sharp, pitched like a veteran out there just really hit a lot of spots and they’re offense can do a lot of things,” said Coach Lemonis. ”It was nice to see him pitch and use his whole arsenal against them.”
Pitching beyond your experience is going to be a major key for Indiana this season. Last year the Hoosiers had aces such as Kyle Hart, Jake Kelzer and Thomas Belcher to hold down opposing offenses. The three of them combined for 18 wins and 151 strikeouts last season. Now, Indiana will be reliant upon two sophomores and a freshman.
“We’re pretty confident, we are young, but I don’t think talent is really lacking as a staff,” said Stiever. “We have a lot of different options too. Compared to last year we can run a lot of different guys out of the bullpen out there which gives you more confidence just to have those types of options.”
Although Stiever and the rest of this staff is young, it doesn’t lack talent. Last season Stiever went 1-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 18 appearances. As a freshman, Stiever struck out 30 batters and walked just five in 40 total innings. The numbers were impressive, but now he’s going to be expected to carry a much larger role.
The key for him this past Friday, and the key for him moving forward will be his fastball.
“It’s really just attacking with the fastball,” said Stiever. “I think that’s something as a pitching staff we do really well. Being able to just pitch off of the fastball is something that was effective in that game and I think will be effective throughout the year.”
With that effective heater, Stiever will have all he needs to take advantage of a major opportunity.
When Coach Lemonis was asked about why he gave Stiever that opportunity to be the Friday night starter, Lemonis provided Greg Murray of IU Athletics a very clear answer.
“Just shows up,” said Lemonis. “Gets after it. Got good stuff, good demeanor, and he’ll compete. That’s the biggest side we see from him”
That competitive nature should come to no surprise to those that know of Jonathon Stiever’s high school career.
Stiever was a dominant two sport athlete at Cedarburg high school. Stiever was so dominant that he earned First Team All-State honors as a defensive back and wide receiver on the football team. He was also named the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Football State Player of the Year.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel actually did a pretty good job following Stiever’s football career, as they spoke with Brookfield East High School’s football coach about Stiever’s abilities.
"He is the best all-around player I saw all year. ...That kid can do everything," said Brookfield East coach Tom Swittel, whose team lost, 49-13, to Cedarburg in the first round of the playoffs back in 2014.
If Stiever can continue to compete on the mound all year, just as he did on the football field back in high school, then the Hoosiers have a chance to cause serious damage in May.