Cardinals play 1st home series

Maloney says foul weather has hurt Cardinals' rhythm.

Ball State's baseball team has been under the weather as of late.

The Cardinals have had four games canceled this year due to inclement weather and, according to head coach Rich Maloney, rain and snow have made it more difficult for his team to establish the rhythm he deems necessary to build consistency.

The team will have a chance to establish some rhythm this weekend as Ball State kicks off its first homestand Saturday against Valparaiso University.

Valparaiso (1-7-1) came into the season with great expectations - especially from the plate. The Crusaders finished the 2001 season 11th in the nation in slugging percentage (.519), 12th in home runs (81) and 20th in doubles (134) and returned much of the core of its lineup this year.

Valpo has not lived up to expectations as of yet, however, losing its first four games by a combined 43 runs before notching a 10-inning tie at St. Joseph's (Ind.) March 14.

Ball State (5-7) started its season on a similar note, dropping four of its first five games. The Cardinals rebounded during Spring Break with wins against reigning national champs No. 17 Miami (Fla.), Kentucky, Monmouth and Wagner, but Maloney said he thinks a lack of overall consistency still plagues the team.

"The reason we've lost some close games has been a combination of things," Maloney said. "We've made crucial mistakes at bad times."

The Cardinals have lost five one-run games this season. Maloney said he hopes the bottom of Ball State's order will develop as the season unfolds.

"Small production at the bottom of the order has been a problem," Maloney said. "They're capable of being good hitters.

"We show five guys who are consistent contributors."

Currently, three Cardinals are hitting above .300 - Paul Henry (.367), Scott French (.356) and Ben Schroeder (.341) - while the team as a whole is hitting .270. Ball State's opponents are hitting .238 so far this season.

Due to a schedule change, Ball State will play a doubleheader at Ball Diamond Saturday and a single game Sunday. Start time for both games is set for 1 p.m. The Cardinals were originally scheduled to play at Valparaiso Saturday.


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