1. This is Indiana's first trip to Omaha - how excited is the fan base about this?
The fan base is truly paying attention to baseball for the first time this year. But this isn't just a Johnny Come Lately phenomenon. We built a new stadium (the last one was from 1946 and embarrassing to behold) and the crowds have been pretty steady all year. Add in the great late season success and baseball being between the end of basketball and the start of basketball and the fans are paying attention. I think it's great to see and hopefully something that will continue into the future. Our Capital One Cup hopes hang on the performance of the baseball team this week.
2. What is the strength of the Indiana team - hitting, pitching, fielding and why?
Indiana's strength is their hitting. 1-9 they don't really give any pitcher a break. If you take a batter off every single guy can punish you, some more than others. The pitching has been great all year, but has started to show some cracks against stronger competition. I would still put it in a strength category, depending on which guy you get on which days. The real weakness comes with the defense. We have a tendency to make the worst plays at the worst times.
3. What hitter(s) are hot for IU right now?
Kyle Schwarber may be a top 10 hitter in the nation right now. The sophomore has slugged 18 home runs on the year and I don't recall him having a bad at bat for the last month or so. If the game is on the line, I want Kyle Schwarber swinging the bat. The guy hitting behind him hasn't been too shabby either. Sam Travis in the post season (B1G tournament, regionals, super regionals) has nearly doubled his season output in both home runs and extra base hits. Putting those two back to back in the order makes for a very shaky crew to face off against. The Hoosiers have scored in the first inning in 50% of their games. That has a ton to do with the 2-3-4 spots being so tough to get through without a scrape.
4. What pitchers are doing well right now, starting and relieving? Who should we watch out for coming out of the bullpen?
Aaron Slegers has been our ace while not being our ace all year. Joey DeNato has been tabbed as the guy to lead the staff in a series, but the 6'10" Slegers has been the better pitcher. Despite his size he's a finesse guy painting corners and topping out around 89 mph. Glanville compared him to Chris Young (formerly of the Padres) and I think that's a great comparison. Because of his size the ball still gets on hitters very quickly. The mid-week starter and true freshman Will Coursen-Carr has great stuff and if he's hitting his spots with any consistency could be a real trouble maker in long relief. Ryan Halstead has been steady as a closer but he's not the super intimidating well this game is over type guy that some other teams in Omaha can trot out.
5. If we were to meet up in Omaha, how badly would y'all want to beat us just because we are from the SEC, or do you even care and the Big Ten hate of the SEC is overblown?
Meh, it's not football. We only hate the SEC when it comes to football because of the obviously biases in the whole bowl selection crap. I think the new playoff scenario will temper some of that. But, no, not really looking towards beating you because you're SEC. Just want to beat you. I'd say the conference rivalry is overblown. Most of us up here don't really know who the power conferences are in baseball.