TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
But this is the 2013 Sycamores, after all, and after a season in which seemingly little has gone right, it appears its stars will remain crossed at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
ISU and Creighton kickoff the double-elimination tournament at 10 a.m. today at Illinois State’s Duffy Bass Field.
For the second week in a row, the status of ISU pitching ace Sean Manaea is in doubt. Manaea has been suffering from a sore hip for the majority of the season. After a cortisone shot in early May gave him some relief, the pain has returned, and though Manaea is still scheduled to start this morning, it is not a certainty, and it will be a game-time decision.
ISU coach Rick Heller lamented Manaea’s health — and the effect it has had on the Sycamores’ fortunes.
“It will depend on how sore he is,” said Heller on Manaea’s status. “We feel like when Sean is healthy, we’re the best team in the country. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been healthy and we haven’t been able to go into games with the confidence we have when he’s at his best. He’s battled, though, and no one is going to want to face him regardless.”
Working in Manaea’s favor, should he pitch, is the fear factor he generates in opponents. No one wants to see Manaea in the tournament.
Manaea earned a victory over Creighton on a Saturday earlier this season when he was in the midst of worst pre-injection hip pain. He struck out eight and walked four. However, the Bluejays did defeat Manaea in the 2012 MVC Tournament opener.
Manaea himself doesn’t put much into the intimidation he can allegedly force upon his foes.
“I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can do,” Manaea said. “I don’t really about whether the other team wants to see me or not, I just try to go out there and have fun with it.”
Manaea also has a chance to set ISU’s all-time strikeout record. He has 290 career punch-outs and is currently third behind Mark Gardiner and Casey Whitten. With seven strikeouts, he’ll pass Gardiner. With 10, he’d pass Whitten.
The MVC Tournament presents a hurdle for No. 1 starters of all teams and of any quality. The short turnaround from a Thursday regular-season finale to a pressure-filled MVC Tournament Tuesday opener can often disrupt an ace’s rhythm.
“I’ve seen it for years at this tournament. The short rest messes with Friday starters. I’ve seen some starters that were really good bomb at the tournament,” said Heller, who noted that ISU’s No. 1 2012 starter, Dakota Bacus, struggled in the 2012 Tournament despite being delayed a day.
Manaea’s injury problems shouldn’t completely over-shadow some of the things that are going ISU’s way entering the tournament. ISU’s bats woke up in the last two weeks of the season — the Sycamores averaged 13.3 hits per game in the just-concluded series with Bradley.
“We feel confident we’re getting it together. Everybody’s 0-0 and the hottest team wins. We feel like we’re playing well,” said ISU second baseman Derek Hannahs, who had a 17-game hit streak snapped against Bradley in ISU’s 16-7 victory last Saturday.
ISU (24-23) was 7-2 against the teams — Wichita State, Creighton and Southern Illinois — in its side of the bracket this season. Several of the big MVC arms are contained in the other half of the bracket.
“We’re in the perfect bracket. How much does it mean? I don’t know,” Heller said.
Creighton (30-16) is the only MVC team that has a realistic chance to get a NCAA Tournament at-large bid should it not win the MVC’s automatic bid. The Bluejays’ RPI is 46 as of Monday, a rating that is similar to ISU’s when it was selected as a 2012 at-large team.
Creighton changed its rotation for its final series against Wichita State. However, Tommy Strunc — a former Terre Haute Rex pitcher — is expected to start today. He is emblematic of many of Creighton’s pitchers.
“He’s competitive and he has a Friday night mentality. He’s throws breaking balls for strikes. The key with Creighton is to hit sliders early in the count. We had success with that earlier in the season,” said Heller, referring to ISU’s April home sweep of the Bluejays.
ISU has played in the tournament opener in three of the last four seasons and has won all of those contests. ISU was eliminated in a 10 a.m. game last season against Evansville on the second day of the tournament.
TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
- Indiana State University
Bullpen mates: Three relievers coming on strong down stretch for Rex
The Terre Haute Rex pitching staff ranks fifth among the 12 teams in the Prospect League in earned-run average this season and first in the league with only four home runs allowed all summer. But the Rex pitchers might be the best in the league the past two weeks as the team has had two shutouts and two games with one run allowed in the past week.
Prettyman wants ISU to be prepared for potential NCAA changes
Against a rising tide of media, public and institutional sentiment that would suggest otherwise, Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman believes that the current model of college athletics still works.
Can Sycamores bounce back from rough 2013 season?
One week before Indiana State begins preseason practice, there really is only one fundamental question that the Sycamore program faces.
Can it win again?
ISU basketball trio earn national academic honors
A trio of Indiana State basketball student-athletes have been named to the 2013-14 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court as announced by the national organization. Honored from Indiana State were Lucas Eitel, Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell.
Metro roundup: Post 346 rallies past Rockville
Wayne Newton Post 346 scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to get past Rockville 6-3 in an American Legion baseball regional at Terre Haute North on Wednesday.
Memorable experience in Morocco for ISU soccer team could help team's growth
Coming off the best season in its history, the Indiana State women’s soccer team figures to have the experience to do even better in the upcoming fall season.
Or maybe that’s #TheExperience.
Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco
Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.
MVC to shift women's basketball tournament to Moline, Ill.
The Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament will move 90 miles farther from Terre Haute beginning in 2016, the league announced Thursday.
Metro: ISU-IU football game to be on ESPNEWS
Indiana University announced Wednesday that the season opening game between Indiana State and IU will be played at noon on Sept. 30.
Odum heads for Vegas with Kings summer team
Terre Haute native Jake Odum scored three points in the Indiana Pacers’ 84-74 victory on Thursday over the Miami Heat in the Orlando Summer League.
Odum has 5 points for Pacers in summer play
Former Indiana State standout Jake Odum contributed five points, three assists and a steal in 15 minutes on the court Wednesday for the Indiana Pacers summer league team.
MVC Tournament staying in St. Louis until 2018
Missouri Valley Conference men's tournament staying in St. Louis until 2018.
Odum scores 2 points off bench for Pacers
Three of the top picks in last month’s draft are adjusting to NBA at different speeds at the Orlando Pro Summer League.
Gardner staying sharp with Danville
This summer with the Danville Dans is a big one for Terre Haute native Cody Gardner, who wants to play a part in keeping Indiana State baseball successful in 2015.
The former Terre Haute North High School standout painfully sat and watched as a Division I transfer as ISU made its ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 35-win regular season.
Metro: ISU’s Wise starts out well in USATF championships
Indiana State sprinter Katie Wise advanced to the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters as she ran 11.42 seconds in the opening heat of the event Thursday evening at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships.
ISU's Odum talks about agreeing to play for Pacers' summer-league team
No team selected him in the two-round NBA draft Thursday night, but Terre Haute native and four-year Indiana State basketball standout Jake Odum agreed Friday to play for the Indiana Pacers’ summer-league squad next month.
Steady success: ISU continued to climb ladder with one of its best overall seasons ever
First of all, if you’re an Indiana State fan, stand up and applaud. The Sycamores collectively went where only one Sycamore athletic department went before in 2013-14. ISU finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy standings. ISU recorded a score of 3.538, its highest in school history.
Jake Odum about to reach red letter date in his career
Terre Haute’s Jake Odum made a name, a reputation and a wonderful career for himself during his four seasons at Indiana State. If nothing else were to happen in his basketball life, he’ll always be one of the Sycamores’ all-time best.
Of course, Odum wants more. He wants to play in the NBA. Since ISU’s season concluded in late March, he’s been on a three-month quest to fulfill his dream.
Metro roundup: Odum to work out with Lakers
Terre Haute native and former Indiana State guard Jake Odum will have two more workouts before next Thursday’s NBA Draft. Odum will work out with the Los Angeles Lakers today. Odum will have a second workout with the Orlando Magic next week before the draft.
ISU takes balanced approach with newcomer Tre Bennett
Indiana State’s men’s basketball program recruited Tre Bennett to be its next starting point guard. Indiana State does not want to put too much pressure on Bennett in his first season.
Those two sentences seem to be a contradiction. But ISU’s coaches and Bennett himself are hoping there’s a third way, a path where he can ease into a role as a contributor without the pressure, at least right off the bat, of being “the man.”
New ISU coach Parker makes first impression
Indiana State assistant coach Terry Parker hasn’t had too much time to make a first impression.
Officially hired in late April, but identified as Dave Ragland’s replacement on Greg Lansing’s staff long before that, there haven’t been many team activities for Parker to take part in since he joined ISU’s staff from Utah Valley.
Greggmar Swift advances to NCAA hurdles final
Greggmar Swift advanced to the finals of the 110-meter hurdles to highlight Indiana State’s performances during day two of the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field.
ISU taking mix of veterans, underclassmen to NCAAs
With three sophomores among Indiana State’s record number of entrants heading to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, the Sycamores are in position to have athletes competing for a national title for at least a couple more seasons.
Katie Wise, in particular, has the potential to rack up multiple All-American accolades between now and the time she graduates in 2016.
Pair of Sycamores selected in Major League Baseball draft
Two Indiana State baseball players were chosen in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft Saturday.
Senior shortstop Tyler Wampler, a 2010 graduate of West Vigo High School, went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round (519th overall) and junior catcher Mike Fitzgerald went to the San Diego Padres in the 27th round (807th overall).
Ex-Sycamore Lutz begins NFL journey with Colts
The end of the journey. Or, really, just the beginning. That's how former Indiana State center FN Lutz described his emotions after signing a free-agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday morning.
Metro roundup: Rex opener postponed to today
The Terre Haute Rex grand opening has been pushed back to today due to Monday’s thunderstorms.
ISU baseball can't find lifeline
Indiana State ends NCAA regional with 0-2 mark as its season ends.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone
ISU coach Mitch Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone.
Despite loss, ISU's Keaffaber draws praise
Indiana State pitcher Ryan Keaffaber lost to Stanford in NCAA regional, but his effort was lauded.
Stanford's Quantrill controls Sycamores
ISU is beaten 8-1 by Stanford in NCAA Regional.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- Bullpen mates: Three relievers coming on strong down stretch for Rex