Indiana earns Big Ten’s first CWS birth since 1984
June 13th, 2013
Omaha, NE – Indiana University captured the Big Ten regular season and postseason tournament titles for the first time in its history.[audio:https://kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/iu-FINAL.mp3]
The Hoosiers have collected an overall record of 48-14, the best in Indiana history, on their way to the College World Series in Omaha. But it wasnâ€™t a season without trials, according to Head Coach Tracy Smith. Indiana had an 18 game winning streak heading into a series with Michigan State, where they dropped three games in a row – all three on walk-off hits, baseballâ€™s equivalent to a buzzer beating shot.
â€œWe didnâ€™t rant and rave,â€ Smith said. â€œThe guys didnâ€™t panic, we just collectively at the end said â€˜Hey I trust you, you guys should do your jobs, and not make more out of it than it is.â€™ We didnâ€™t play that poorly, letâ€™s just keep being who we are and fortunately things worked out for us.â€
Smith says his team fought hard following the Spartan series, going on another nine game tear and winning its last five series to close out regular season play. Smith says true freshman pitcher, Will Coursen-Carr has certainly earned his scholarship this postseason. It was Coursen-Carr, who was on the mound for clinching victories in the Big Ten Tournament, NCAA Regional and Super Regional this past weekend against Florida State.
â€œTo have the baseball in his hands at the end of the season, in those championship pressure packed situations, we felt very, very comfortable with it,â€ he said. â€œGlad we had him rested and ready to go because I donâ€™t know if there were more important situations then when he had the ball in his hands,â€ Smith said.
Smith said having a team that led the Big Ten in total team ERA and batting average makes for good balance. He also said giving players a sense of ownership over the program has allowed his team to flourish.
â€œI think we are so far beyond that, because I think to be a good baseball team and for guys to buy in â€“ you have to empower your players,â€ Smith said. You have to let them know that you trust them. I think as my team has grown, Iâ€™ve also grown as a coach. I always try to motivate how I like to be motivated. I donâ€™t like somebody sitting over the top of me all the time telling me what I need to do. â€˜Yea you trust me to do the job, now let me do the job.â€™ So I have tried to instill that into our team, but Iâ€™ve made it very clear to our team that guys, we are going to be as good as you want to be because this is your baseball team. I think theyâ€™ve embraced that,â€ Smith said.
Indiana faces off against Louisville Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park at 7pm. Louisville is a team Indiana squared off with twice in the regular season. The Hoosiers took the first game 2-0 before dropping the second meeting 6-2 in March. Smith calls his short time in Omaha thus far a blessing and a treat. He hopes to surprise fans as the first Big Ten competitor in the CWS in 29 years.
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