Indiana Ready for Valpo, NU
Sporting its longest winning streak of the season, Indiana (15-7) will play host to Valparaiso (3-12) on Wednesday, March 31 with first pitch set for 3 p.m. at Sembower Field. The Hoosiers will head out on the road this weekend to open Big Ten Conference play at Northwestern, April 2-4. The Hoosiers and Wildcats will meet at 4 p.m. on Friday, go head-to-head in a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m., and close out the series on Sunday at 2 p.m. with game four.All four games will be played at Northwestern's Rocky Miller Park.
As a team, the Hoosiers own a .308 batting average, which ranks second among Big Ten teams as of March 29. Indiana has belted 25 home runs, 48 doubles and 13 triples.
Senior shortstop Seth Bynum leads the Hoosiers with a .432 batting average, 35 hits and 35 RBI. Junior second baseman Corby Heckman is next with a .390 batting average and a team-best 27 runs scored.
The IU pitching staff sports a 4.10 team ERA and has recorded 130 strikeouts to 86 walks through 22 games. The Hoosiers' ERA is the best among conference pitching staffs.
Indiana went 4-0 last week and ran its win streak to seven consecutive games with victories over Indiana Wesleyan, Chicago State and a doubleheader sweep of Wright State. The Hoosiers currently stand 15-7 with one game left to play before the start of the Big Ten season.
Offense Continuing to Surge
Prior to the start of the season, the IU coaching staff pinned the Hoosiers' offensive talents as one of the strengths of this season's team. After a slow start, Indiana is showing just what it can do at the plate. The Hoosiers are hitting .308 entering the week, and it marks the first time this season that IU boasts a team batting average of better than .300. Seth Bynum leads the way with a .432 average, and IU has five players who hit higher than .300, including Corby Heckman (.390), Joe Kemp (.379), Kevin Mahar (.355), Reggie Watson (.329) and David Hughes (.304).
Valparaiso comes into Wednesday's contest with a 3-12 record. The Crusaders split a doubleheader at Butler on Sunday, winning game one, 8-1, but falling in the nightcap, 6-3. Indiana defeated Butler earlier this season, 4-0, in Indianapolis on March 3.
The All-Time Series with the Crusaders
IU and Valpo have played 39 times, and the Hoosiers maintain a 27-11-1 advantage in the series. Indiana has won three straight outings, including a 12-2 victory on March 1, 2003, in Bradenton, Fla., and a 7-2 triumph in Bloomington on April 9, 2003.
The Wildcats enter Big Ten opening weekend with a 9-9-1 record and have won seven of their last 10 games. Northwestern owns a .297 team batting average and has four players hitting .300 or better. Jason Krynski paces the team with a .373 average, 10 doubles and 19 RBI. Matt Brimmer is next with a .333 average.
Northwestern's top two pitchers, Dan Brauer and J.A. Happ currently rank first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten Conference in strikeouts. Brauer boasts a 2.15 ERA, second among Big Ten hurlers, to go with his league-leading 28 strikeouts. Happ has recorded 44 strikeouts and sports a 2.48 ERA, which is fourth in the conference.
Head coach Paul Stevens is in his 17th season as the Wildcats' head coach.
Wildcats To Play Home Opener vs. Hoosiers
Not only will Northwestern kick off its Big Ten slate this weekend against Indiana, but it will also play at home at Rocky Miller Park for the first during the 2004 campaign. The Wildcats are 8-6 at neutral sites and 1-3-1 on the road.
Picking Up Where They Left Off...
Indiana and Northwestern met in the final regular season series for both teams last May in Bloomington. With one game lost to Mother Nature, the Hoosiers went 2-1 against the Wildcats. IU picked up a 7-0 win in game one behind Chris Behrens' five-hitter and captured game two, 11-9. NU proved the victor in game three, handing Indiana a 5-3 loss.
The Hoosiers met Northwestern again in the Big Ten Tournament on May 22. IU staved off elimination and knocked the Wildcats out of the tournament with an 8-1 win. Josh Lewis pitched a complete game and recorded a career-high seven strikeouts in the victory.
Mahar's "Grand" Day
Senior Kevin Mahar hit the first grand slam of his career on March 24 against Chicago State. Mahar delivered his ninth long ball of the season in the fourth inning against the Cougars and the Hoosiers went to to win, 29-5. Mahar has homered a Big Ten-best 10 times in 22 games.
Bynum The Total Package
Senior shortstop Seth Bynum is performing in every area for the Hoosiers this season. The Louisville, Ky., native and Lincoln Trail Junior College transfer paces the club with a .432 batting average, 35 hits, 35 RBI, six sacrifice flies and 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts. Bynum also ranks second with 10 walks and a .469 on-base percentage, tied for second with three home runs and third with a .667 slugging percentage.
Indiana is the only team to rank in the top three in team batting average, team ERA and team fielding percentage in the latest Big Ten Conference statistics as of March 29. The IU pitching staff leads the league with a 4.10 ERA, ranks second with a .308 batting average and third with a .963 fielding percentage.
Ringing up the Runs
In four victories last week, Indiana put 56 runs on the scoreboard, an average of 14 runs a game. Indiana started the season slow offensively, scoring just 41 runs in its first nine games. Since then, the Hoosiers have picked up the pace and totaled 158 runs in their last 13 games, an average of more than 12 runs per outing.
Six Homers Propel IU Past Chicago State
Indiana belted six home runs on its way to a 29-5 victory over Chicago State on March 24 in Bloomington. David Hughes led the way with a pair of homers, numbers two and three of his career. Kevin Mahar hit his ninth long ball of the season. Seth Bynum pounded his third while Ryan Donley lifted his second home run of the season. Freshman Rashard Graves also nailed the first roundtripper of his career.
More on the Chicago State Game
In addition to its six home runs, Indiana set season highs with 24 hits, 51 at bats, 29 runs scored, 26 RBI and 50 total bases against the Cougars.
Home Run Hoosiers
Indiana pounded 10 home runs in four games last week bringing its season total to 25 in 22 games. Nine different Hoosier players have gone deep and six have hit more than one homer. Kevin Mahar leads the team with 10 home runs while Seth Bynum and Joe Kemp have three apiece.
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