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Courtesy: ISU Athletics
ISU Baseball Travels South On Opening Weekend
Courtesy:ISU Athletics
Danny Pfrank

The Indiana State baseball team begins their 117th season of play this weekend, opening the 2013 season with a trip to Huntsville, Ala., for four games in the 2013 Bulldog Classic. Indiana State will face IPFW on Friday and play a doubleheader with Morehead State on Saturday before facing tournament-host Alabama A&M on Sunday.

Weekend Schedule
Friday: vs. IPFW, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Saturday: vs. Morehead State, 2:00 p.m. (ET) and 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Sunday: vs. Alabama A&M, 1:00 p.m. (ET)

Probable Indiana State Pitching Rotation
Friday: Sean Manaea (Jr. -- LHP -- 6-5 -- 235 -- Wanatah, Ind. -- Andrean HS)
Notes: Ninth pitcher in ISU history to tally 100+ Ks in a single season ... 197 career strikeouts
2012 Season Stats: 5-3 record ... 3.34 ERA ... 105.0 IP ... 115 strikeouts ... .248 batting average against
Saturday: Daniel Peterson (Jr. -- RHP -- 6-6 -- 182 -- Lenexa, Kan. -- Neosho County CC)
Notes: Transfer from Neosho County CC ... pitched earned  all-state honors while at De Soto HS (KS)
2012 Season Stats: 7-3 record ... 2.43 ERA ... 75 IP ... 59 strikeouts ... tossed five complete games
Saturday: Jeff Degano (Jr. -- LHP -- 6-4 -- 200 -- Surrey, British Columbia -- Marshalltown CC)
Notes: Transfer from Marshalltown CC ... pitched last summer for the Catawaba Valley Stars
2012 Season Stats: 2-3 record ... 5.40 ERA ... 20 IP ... 33 strikeouts ... five appearances
Sunday: TBA

A Little History
Indiana State will face IPFW, Morehead State and Alabama A&M during their time at the 2013 Bulldog Classic, entering the tournament holding a 5-2 combined record against the trio of teams. ISU is 3-1 all-time against IPFW, with their last meeting coming in 2004 when the Sycamores won 5-0 in Evansville, Ind. Morehead State won their only meeting with Indiana State, a 7-2 victory in the NCAA Mideast Regional in Ann Arbor, Mich., on May 19, 1983. Alabama A&M and Indiana State met for the first time last season during the 2012 Bulldog Classic as the Sycamores swept their two games by scores of 12-0 and 7-0.

Opening Weekend
Indiana State has totaled a 14-20 record on the opening weekend of the season over the past 10 seasons, including a 3-6 record under third-year head coach Rick Heller. The Sycamores have been swept in a three-game road series in each of the previous two opening weekends, falling to Southeastern Louisiana in 2012 and Dallas Baptist in 2011. Over the past 10 seasons, the Sycamores have tallied a 3-7 record in the opening game of their season, with their last win coming in 2010 against Texas Southern in Shreveport, La., a 15-6 victory. Below is a quick look at the last 10 opening weekends for Indiana State.

2012 at Southeastern Louisiana - L, 0-3             2007 at Georgia State - W, 2-1
2011 at Dallas Baptist - L, 0-3                           2006 at Millington, Tenn., Tournament - L, 1-3
2010 vs. Texas Southern - W, 3-0                     2005 at Millington, Tenn., Tournament - L, 1-2
2009 at The Citadel - W, 3-1                             2004 at SLU / Evansville Tournament - L, 1-3
2008 at South Florida - L, 1-2                           2003 at APSU / Lebanon, Tenn., Tournament - T, 2-2

Sycamores Picked Third In MVC Preseason Poll
In a vote conducted by the eight head coaches from around the Missouri Valley Conference, Indiana State was picked to finish in third place during the upcoming 2013 season.

Coming off their first outright regular season MVC championship in program history and their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1995, the Sycamores return 14 total letterwinners, five position starters and seven pitchers from last year's squad that finished 41-19 on the season and participated in the NCAA Regional in Eugene, Ore. Indiana State welcomes 14 newcomers to the team and will have six student-athletes eligible after redshirting in 2012.

Missouri State was voted as the preseason favorite in the league, receiving six first-place votes and 60 points overall. Wichita State (one first-place vote, 47 points) checks in second while Illinois State (one first-place vote, 45 points) and Indiana State (45 points) tied for third. Southern Illinois (36 points), Bradley (21 points), 2012 MVC Tournament champions Creighton (18 points) and Evansville (16 points) round out the bottom half of the preseason poll.

Indiana State will face a tough MVC schedule this season despite having four home series against three on the road. ISU's three road trips in conference play this season are against the top three teams in the preseason poll, as the Sycamores travel to Missouri State on March 29-31, Wichita State on April 5-7 and Illinois State on April 19-21. Indiana State's home series are against Southern Illinois (March 22-24), Creighton (April 12-14), Evansville (May 3-5) and Bradley (May 16-18). Illinois State will host the 2013 MVC Tournament at Duffy Bass Field, beginning on Tuesday, May 21.

Manaea, Ort Named Preseason All-MVC
Senior Robby Ort and junior Sean Manaea were both named to the Preseason All-MVC Team heading into the 2013 season in a vote conducted by the eight head coaches from around the conference.

Ort, a native of Newburgh, Ind., and Castle High School, hit .291 last season while leading the team with 54 RBIs and 20 doubles. Over his three seasons at Indiana State, Ort has totaled 157 runs batted in, needing 17 more in his senior season to break into the Top 5 in school history.

Manaea, an Andrean High School product and Wanatah, Ind., native, went 5-3 on the mound with a 3.34 ERA last season, leading the team with 115 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched. In his career with Indiana State, Manaea has 197 strikeouts and is looking become to 13th pitcher to break the 200-strikeout barrier with the Sycamores. Manaea's 115 strikeouts last season ranked the southpaw in a tie for 13th on a national scale.

Manaea Named To Three Preseason All-America Teams
Junior Sean Manaea earned selection to a trio of Preseason All-America teams heading into the season, as Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Perfect Game each selected the Indiana State southpaw as a First Team All-American. Below is a quick look at the last All-America selections for the Indiana State baseball team:

ABCA: OF Dan Olson, 1996                               Collegiate Baseball: DH Todd Tatlock, 1995
Baseball America: SP Casey Whitten, 1993         Sporting News: 3B Chad McDonald, 1990

ISU Receives Votes In Two National Preseason Polls
The Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association both have the Sycamores on their national radar, as Indiana State is receiving votes in the preseason polls by both organizations.

ISU Claims First Outright Regular Season Title In School History
Indiana State earned their first outright Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship in 2012, finishing the league schedule with a 14-7 record. The 2012 season marked the fourth time in program history that the Sycamores have sat atop the standings at the end of the season, joining the teams from 1982, 1983 and 1985. The 1982 and 1983 squads won the East Division of the MVC while the 1985 team tied with Wichita State.

At-Large Selection
Indiana State received an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament field on Selection Monday last season, just the second time in school history that the Sycamores have made the postseason without winning the MVC Tournament. ISU claimed their only other at-large selection back in 1987 when the Sycamores fell in the conference finals to Wichita State, ending the regular season at 44-16-1 before going 1-2 in a regional in Austin, Texas.

Winning Ways
Indiana State posted their fourth straight winning season in 2012 and third straight under head coach Rick Heller. ISU's last run of four consecutive winning seasons came from 2000-03, while the last time that Indiana State posted five winning seasons in a row came during a 17-year run from 1977-1993.

Strong In The Field
Indiana State has ranked in the Top 35 in fielding percentage in all three of their seasons under head coach Rick Heller, one of only nine teams in the nation to do so from 2010-2012. Three of the nine from around the nation are from the Missouri Valley Conference, as Evansville and Creighton are also in the select group.

Eight Shutouts Last Season
The Sycamores recorded eight shutouts last season, their highest total since blanking opponents nine times during both the 1985 and 1983 seasons. The school record for shutouts in a single season is 10, set by the 1977 squad.

ISU Sets School Record For Hit By Pitches, Ranks Fifth In The NCAA
Indiana State finished fifth in the NCAA in hit by pitches last season, breaking the team's school record by totaling 105 HBPs. ISU also tied a school record for single-game HBPs against SIU Edwardsville (March 13, 2012), as the Sycamores were hit by seven pitches during the game. ISU was also hit by seven pitches twice during the 2008 season, on March 15 at the College of Charleston and on May 13 against Miami (Ohio). Landon Curry led the team with 20 HBPs, while Jeff Miera (15), Jeremy Lucas (10), Robby Ort (10) and Tyler Wampler (10) also went into double figures.

Three Sycamores Earn MVC Specialty Awards In 2012
Jeremy Lucas and Dakota Bacus and head coach Rick Heller each claimed a specialty award from the MVC following the 2012 season, highlighted by Lucas becoming the program's first conference Player of the Year. Bacus was named the Newcomer of the Year for the conference while Heller earned the Dan Callahan / MVC Coach of the Year award.

Lucas hit a team-leading .345 last season, topping the roster in hits (78), home runs (nine), runs scored (53), slugging percentage (.540) and on-base percentage (.443). The Cleveland Indians draftee also totaled 52 RBIs and 13 doubles. Bacus went 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA on the mound, tossing three complete games. The Oakland Athletics selection set the program record for innings pitches in the single season, racking up 116.2 innings on the mound. Heller was named the Dan Callahan / MVC Coach of the Year following the 41-19 season for the Sycamores, their first 40-win season since 1992.

Manaea Nears 200 Career Strikeouts
Junior Sean Manaea enters his junior season at Indiana State with 197 career strikeouts, ranking just outside the Top 10 in program history. Manaea totaled 115 Ks in his sophomore season, ranking in a tie for third in school history for single-season strikeouts. Below is a quick look at the career leaders in strikeouts at Indiana State.

1. Casey Whitten (1991-93) - 299                     T7. Tom Browning (1993-96) - 217
2. Mike Gardiner (1984-87) - 296                      9. Paul Quizner (1983-86) - 214
3. Brad Finken (1994-97) - 275                         10. Chris Schaefer (1987-89) - 213
4. Blaise Ilsley (1983-85) - 274                         11. Joe Thatcher (2001-04) - 209
5. Mitch Stetter (2000-03) - 254                        12. Matt Zaleski (2001-04) - 200
6. Mike Farrell (1988-91) - 248                         13. Sean Manaea (2011-present) - 197
T7. John Howes (1982-86) - 217

Productive At The Plate: Part I
Senior Robby Ort has led the team in runs batted in following each of his three seasons at Indiana State, totaling 157 RBIs in his freshman through junior seasons. The Newburgh, Ind., native has also increased his production in all three seasons, improving from 50 RBIs as a freshman to 53 RBIs as a sophomore to 54 RBIs as a junior. In 2012, Ort became the first Sycamore in program history to lead the team in runs batted in for three consecutive seasons.

Productive At The Plate: Part II
Senior Robby Ort enters his senior season with 157 career RBIs at the plate, ranking seventh in program history at Indiana State. Below is quick look at the Top 10 for RBIs in school history.

1. Boi Rodriguez (1985-87) - 200                       6. Bob Zeihen (1985-88) - 159
2. Chad McDonald (1988-90) - 198                    7. Robby Ort (2010-present) - 157
3. Dan Frye (1989-92) - 186                              8. Mike Lexa (1984-86) - 154
4. John LaMar (1989-92) - 175                          9. Dan Olson (1994-96) - 153
5. Mike Eberle (1984-87) - 174                          10. Kevin Egli (2000-03) - 151

Steady At Short
Junior Tyler Wampler has been a mainstay on defense for the Sycamores, starting 94 games at shortstop over the past two seasons. Wampler has tallied 324 fielding assists (140 as a freshman in 2011, 184 as a sophomore in 2012) in his time at Indiana State, a total that puts the West Terre Haute, Ind., native on pace to break Dan Frye's school record of 541.

Best Winning Percentage In The MVC Since 2009
Indiana State has posted 138 wins and a .613 winning percentage since the 2009 season, the best winning percentage in that span among teams in the MVC. ISU is second to Wichita State (144) in overall wins, but leads the way in winning percentage due to playing 17 fewer games. Indiana State's .613 winning percentage since 2009 ranks fourth among all teams from the MVC, Big Ten, Horizon League, Ohio Valley, Summit and Mid-American Conferences.

Indiana State Around The NCAA
The Sycamores finished the 2012 season among the nation's best in several offensive and defensive categories. Below is a look at where Indiana State ranked around the NCAA:

Category                            ISU Rank           ISU Total               NCAA Leader / Total
Total Wins                            T-21st                  41                      Stony Brook / 52
Win/Loss Pct.                        T-25th                .683                    Utah Valley / .797
Hit By Pitches                          5th                   104                  Delaware State / 152
Sacrifice Flies                        T-20th                  34                          Florida / 46
ERA                                       32nd                  3.25                  Missouri State / 2.57
Fielding Pct.                            35th                  .974                     Evansville / .981
Total Runs                            T-37th                 374                     Utah Valley / 532
Walks Allowed P/G                  39th                  2.89               Cal State Fullerton / 1.87
Hits                                        41st                   609                        Arizona / 756
K-to-BB Ratio                         42nd                  2.42                       Florida / 3.65
Runs Per Game                     T-46th                 6.2                      Utah Valley / 9.0

Freshman At The Top
Sophomore Landon Curry led Indiana State with 16 stolen bases last season as a true freshman, ranking in a tie for sixth in the MVC overall. Curry became the first freshman since Bob Zeihen in 1985 to lead the Sycamores in steals as a rookie.

Three Runs Or Less
The three-run plateau has been the breaking point for the Sycamores under head coach Rick Heller the last three seasons. When ISU has allowed three runs or less to their opponents, the team is 63-8 over the past three seasons, including a 29-5 mark last season. When opponents score four runs or more, ISU holds a 42-58 record.

Early Runs
The Sycamores dominated the early innings last season, outscoring their opponents 242-110 (+132) over the first five innings of their 60 games. In the first inning alone, Indiana State had a 37-run advantage, scoring 58 runs to their opposition's 21.

Getting To The Seventh
Under head coach Rick Heller, Indiana State is 74-14 in games that they hold a lead heading into the seventh inning. When the Sycamores have trailed after the sixth inning, ISU is 14-45.

Scoring First
The Sycamores scored the first run in 38 of their 60 games last season, tallying a 31-7 record when putting a run on the scoreboard first. ISU scored in the first inning in 25 of their games, going 22-3 last season when plating a run in the opening frame.

Against The Best
ISU went 7-8 last season against teams that were in the 2012 NCAA Tournament field, including series wins over Dallas Baptist (No. 2 seed, Waco Regional) and Creighton (No. 4 seed, Los Angeles Regional). ISU posted a 14-13 record against the RPI Top 100 in 2012.

Above Average
ISU ranked above the league average in batting, pitching and fielding last season, one of just two teams in the MVC to do so. ISU ranked third in batting average (.288), second in ERA (3.25) and fourth in fielding percentage (.974). Wichita State also finished last season above the league averages of .276 at the plate, 3.81 on the mound and .971 in the field.

Double-Digit Hits
Indiana State recorded at least 10 hits in a game 29 times last season, going 26-3 when posting double-digit hits. Indiana State's only losses when tallying 10 hits came in walk-off wins for their opponents.

Allowing Big Innings
Under head coach Rick Heller, the Sycamores are 69-19 when the team does not allow a three-run inning during a game. When Indiana State does allow their opponent to score at least three runs in one inning, Indiana State holds a 36-47 record.

Weekend Success
ISU came away winners on 12 of their 14 weekends in 2012, including a string of 12 straight from Feb. 24-26 through May 11-13. Below is a look at last season's weekend results.

Feb. 17-19, at Southeastern Louisiana - L, 0-3     Apr. 6-8, at Creighton - W, 2-1
Feb. 24-26, Bulldog Classic - W, 4-0                    Apr. 13-15, at Bradley - W, 2-1
Mar. 3-4, at Eastern Kentucky - W, 2-1                 Apr. 20-22, vs. Dallas Baptist - W, 2-1
Mar. 9-11, vs. UT Martin - W, 3-0                        Apr. 27-29, vs. Nebraska Omaha - W, 2-1
Mar. 15-18, Irish Classic - W, 4-0                        May 4-6, vs. Wichita State - W, 2-1
Mar. 23-25, at Evansville - W, 2-1                        May 11-13, at Southern Illinois - W, 3-0
Mar. 30-Apr. 1, vs. Illinois State - W, 2-1              May 17-19, vs. Missouri State - L, 1-2

40 Wins
Indiana State's 10-4 win over Southern Illinois on May 13 last season gave the Sycamores their 40th win of the season, the 10th time in program history that ISU broke the 40-win barrier. ISU's 41 wins in 2012 tied for seventh-most in school history and was the team's best total since winning 42 games back in 1991. Below is a quick look at the 40-win seasons in ISU history:

2012: 41-19, First Place MVC, NCAA At-Large       1987: 45-18-1, NCAA At-Large Bid
1992: 40-19, Third Place MVC                             1986: 48-21, MVC Tournament Champions
1991: 42-23, Third Place MVC                             1985: 57-22, T-First Place MVC
1990: 43-21, Fourth Place MVC                           1982: 40-20, First Place MVC East Division
1989: 48-21, MVC Tournament Champions           1979: 41-11, MVC Tournament Champions

Welcome Aboard
Indiana State added 14 newcomers to the team this offseason, with five freshmen and nine transfers joining the Sycamore baseball program. Below is a quick look at the new faces on the Sycamore baseball roster.

No.       Name                        Year      Pos.       Ht.       Wt.         Hometown
4          Taylor Steen                Fr.         C         6-3      190         Grand Fork, N.D.
11         Hunter Owen               Fr.        INF       6-0      175         Evansville, Ind.
12         Jeff Smith                   Jr.         C         6-0       190         Valparaiso, Ind.
17         Logan Willard              Jr.       RHP       6-2       210         Eagle Grove, Iowa
20         Taylor Shaw               R-Sr.      C         6-2       210         Pleasant View, Utah
22         Mike Fitzgerald            Jr.        OF        6-1       210         Rochester, Ill.
28         Cody Zimmerman        Jr.        INF        5-9       200         Newark, Calif.
30         Jeff Degano                 Jr.        LHP       6-4       200         Surrey, British Columbia
31         A.J. McElderry             Jr.        LHP       6-2        210         Batavia, Iowa
32         Tony Rosselli               Fr.        OF        6-2       185         Terre Haute, Ind.
33         Daniel Peterson           Jr.        RHP       6-6       182         Lenexa, Kan.
36         Bobby Boynton            Fr.        RHP       6-1       215         Decatur, Ill.
37         Nick Martin                 Fr.        RHP       6-0       205         Lake of the Hills, Ill.
38         Josh Dove                   Jr.        RHP       6-2       235         Terre Haute, Ind.

On To The Next One...
Indiana State returns to Alabama next weekend, playing three games on Feb. 22-24 in Auburn, Ala. The Sycamores play College of Charleston on Friday, Middle Tennessee on Saturday and Auburn on Sunday, with all three games having a free audio broadcast on GoSycamores.com.

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