Friday, May 21, 2010
IU's Power Display is Chick Friendly
If chicks really do dig the long ball, then Indiana baseball players must be awfully popular these days. The Hoosiers have tied a school record with 82 home runs, including 23 from Alex Dickerson (photo courtesy of IU athletics), a national player of the year finalist.
Three other Hoosiers have reached double digits in homers this season –- Michael Earley (13), Josh Lyons (11) and Micah Johnson (10).
IU has used power to position itself to qualify for the six-team Big Ten tourney. Offense has had to lead the way considering the Hoosiers have one of the worst earned run averages in the Big Ten, at 6.61. Still they are 26-25, 11-12 in the Big Ten.
IU’s 82 homers have come in 51 games. Indiana’s 1992 team had 82 homers in 55 games.
That’s nice, but the bigger issue is advancing into postseason play. The Hoosiers need to beat Illinois in Saturday’s three-game series finale to likely make the conference tournament. The teams split the first two games.
We say likely because of the wide-open Big Ten race. Ten teams are within four games of first.
IU, as the defending Big Ten tourney champs, would seem to have the edge over struggling Illinois, but nothing is as it seems when 12 runs aren’t close to being enough for a victory. The Hoosiers lost 17-12 to Illinois on Friday.
Still, the Hoosiers have a chance because of Dickerson, a sophomore left fielder positioned to win the Big Ten triple crown. He leads in batting average (.411), homers, runs batted in (71) and slugging percentage (.818).
His 23 homers tie Bill Mueller for second on IU’s single-season list. Mike Smith set the record with 27 in 1992. Dickerson’s 37 career homers rank fifth in Indiana history. Smith and Mike Sabo have the school record with 47.
As a result of all this hitting, Dickerson has been invited to the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Trials. He’s also a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Award, presented annually to the top college player.
Dickerson is one of 38 players invited to the National Team Trials.
What makes this amazing is that Dickerson is from southern California, not exactly a Hoosier hotbed for baseball recruiting. That coach Tracy Smith was able to get an all-state high school player from a warm-weather climate to come to the Midwest is very impressive.
How did he do it? By making a great sales pitch and getting Dickerson to visit the campus. Dickerson did, loved it and is now on pace to become the greatest home run hitter in school history.
But that is a topic for a later discussion. For now, the Hoosiers have to beat Illinois and hope it's enough to get them a postseason opportunity.