Infielder Elliot Searer said Penn State is not where it wanted to be heading into this weekend, but that does not affect the Nittany Lions’ confidence.
The Lions (5-11) head to No. 29 Indiana (15-3) this weekend riding a three-game losing streak dating back to the last contest of a three-game set with Houston Baptist on March 9.
Penn State has struggled to find a balance between hitting and pitching in games thus far this season.
“As long as the pitchers have confidence in the hitters, it’ll eventually come around and same thing with the hitters in the pitchers,” Searer said. “We should have trust in them and have everybody go out and do their job.”
Right-handers T.J. Jann and Steven Hill are projected to get the starting nod for the Lions on Friday and Saturday, respectively, while lefty Greg Welsh will anchor the starting rotation Sunday.
In the two-game series with No. 28 Houston on March 5 and 6, the Lions scored a combined 13 runs, but gave up 29. In the double header with Temple on March 17, Penn State allowed only seven runs in the two games, but scored just four. Penn State lost all four games.
Outfielder Steve Snyder said it is important to find the balance between pitching and hitting. He said he hopes it happens this weekend, but the Lions will definitely find the balance eventually.
Searer said the Lions wanted to find the balance from day one, but the start of Big Ten competition provides another sort of day one.
The Hoosiers broke into the rankings this week and Searer said they did so with good reason.
“They have a couple of good bats that’ll do some damage, but we can’t get caught up in that,” Searer said. “They have good pitching. They’re not going to beat themselves.”
The Hoosiers are 27th in the NCAA in batting average with a .309 mark and 14th in earned run average with a 2.25 notch.
Pitching coach Jason Bell said the Hoosiers’ combination of power, speed and good defense makes them a team that is built to win and it will be a battle to compete with them this weekend.
Snyder said starting off Big Ten play with a strong showing builds confidence for later in the year and it always helps to start on top of the conference rather than at the bottom.
Searer said the Lions are looking to go into Bloomington and this series because it is a good opportunity against a team that is being watched not only in the Big Ten, but nationally as well.
Bell stressed the importance of winning the Big Ten games early in the year because of the Nittany Lions’ last season.
“Last year, we missed coming in second place [in the conference] by a game…well that game could’ve been picked up somewhere early in the season,” Bell said. “Now it’s about every game is crucial, basically, in this Big Ten conference.”