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Coursen-Carr leaves IU coach asking questions

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For more on Indiana athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio.

Hooisers set to host NCAA baseball regional

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 6:02 pm

BLOOMINGTON -- So what does Indiana baseball coach Tracy Smith do with pitcher Will Coursen-Carr and this weekend's NCAA regional opportunity?

Does Smith make him the No. 3 starter? How about the No. 4 starter if that becomes necessary? Is a long relief pitcher a possibility if the situation arises?

Welcome to the consequences of a complete game, Big Ten tourney title winning performance from the former South Side standout, a freshman who, until Sunday, had been a conference afterthought.

“He's certainly put some questions out there,” Smith said.

First, a few facts. Indiana is hosting a regional for the first time in history, partly because of its outstanding play (a 43-13 record, Big Ten regular season and conference tourney titles), partly because of the new $19.7 million, state-of-the-art Bart Kaufman Field.

The Hoosiers will open with Valparaiso (31-26) on Friday night. The other teams in the double-elimination tourney are Florida (29-28) and Austin Peay (45-14). Action will conclude either Sunday or Monday, with the winner advancing to Super Regional play starting June 7.

Second, Coursen-Carr has a 3-0 record with a 1.91 earned run average in 13 appearances, all but two against non-conference opponents. He has 27 strikeouts and 17 walks in 49 2/3 innings. He has one of only two complete games compiled by a Hoosier this season.

The 6-4, 220-pound Coursen-Carr was complete-game solid in Sunday's victory over Nebraska, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking three.

Before that, he'd pitched just one-third of an inning in Big Ten play.

“He was outstanding,” Smith said. “It didn't surprise us because he'd been throwing pretty well midweek against pretty good competition. He was ready.”

Few freshmen are so ready, but Coursen-Carr came in as the Gatorade Indiana player of the year after a standout senior season at South Side with a 10-1 record and a 0.40 ERA.

Third, IU is led by veteran starters Aaron Slegers (9-1, 1.93 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 12 walks) and Joey DeNato (8-2, 2.52 ERA, 69 strikeouts and 34 walks). The Hoosiers also have a strong 1-2 reliever punch with Ryan Halstead (3-4, 10 saves, 2.27 ERA) and Scott Effross (6-1, 2.13 ERA).

Fourth, the usual No. 3 starter is Kyle Hart, who is 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA.

So what is Smith going to do?

“If we're fortunate enough to win a game or two, we'd have to look at who that Game 3 starter would be. We'll analyze, not only who we're playing, but to see where Will is with his rest and who gives us the best chance to win.”

Soreness was an issue for Coursen-Carr on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after his Nebraska performance.

“I'm exhausted,” he said. “I'm just not going to throw for a couple days. I'll help out with fungos in practice and get my running in. Running usually makes my arm feel better.”

Coursen-Carr said he figures he'll be the fourth starter if IU loses a game, and likely won't be used in relief.

The Hoosiers' overall pitching depth, Smith said, gives them a big advantage.

“To bring a guy (Coursen-Carr) out of the pen who is as good as anybody we have, sets us up well. We've got a double closer situation with Halstead and Effross. I like our pitching depth as well as any team I've coached.”

IU comes in on roll, winning five of its last six games. It led the Big Ten in hitting (.305) and ERA (2.57).

“Our pitching and hitting has been excellent this year, especially our hitting,” Coursen-Carr said. “The one thing that we've struggled with is defense. If we minimize our errors -- and in our last championship game we didn't make any -- we should come out on top.”

The Hoosiers had hoped to make a national top-eight seed, but just missed out during Monday's selection announcement. The top seeds are North Carolina (52-8), Vanderbilt (51-9), Oregon State (45-10), LSU (52-9), Cal State Fullerton (48-8), Virginia (47-10), Florida State (44-15) and Oregon (45-14).

“It would have been cool to be a national seed,” Coursen-Carr said, “but we're satisfied with our draw. It's one of the best we could have asked for.

“It's cool to make the tournament, especially in my freshman year.”

IU didn't play Valparaiso or Austin Peay this season. It did play Florida, winning two of three in Florida.

“We're confident we can get them again if we play them,” Coursen-Carr said.

As far as ticket information, single sessions cost $12 for general or $15 for reserved for adults, $8 for students. All sessions cost either $77 for reserved or $63 for general for adults, $35 for students.