SOFTBALL: Cardinals prepare to take on Hoosiers

Ball State treating in-state rivalry like any other game

Push yourself through two days of practice; then get in and out with two W's.

That seems to be the mentality for head coach Craig Nicholson and Ball State University (24-9, 4-2) as they prepare to take on Indiana University (8-24, 1-5) Wednesday in a doubleheader at the BSU Softball Complex.

Two days of practice to prepare for an "always tough" Indiana team is Nicholson and the team's main focus.

"We're going to do the same things we do every day, we're going to go hard," Nicholson said. "There is nothing specific that we're going to focus on or spend extra time on, [we are] just going to go through our normal routine."

The Hoosiers appear often on the Cardinal's schedule, so both teams are familiar with one another. Last season Indiana took two of the three matchups.

"We've played them the last couple years and it seems that they're a little bit of a momentum team," Nicholson said. "Getting ahead early can control that, the first two or three innings will be important."

In-state rivalries seem to appear a lot in sports, but the Cardinals won't place greater importance on Wednesday's game. Winning the Mid-American Conference is still Ball State's main focus.

"We all understand that it's important we play teams in our state well," Nicholson said. "But, the girl's main focus is that they get those conference wins."

The Cardinal's ace, Elizabeth Milian, (18-2) needs seven strike outs to become Ball State's new career strikeout leader and will be available for several innings.

"We're not really sure about our pitching rotation [as of now]," Nicholson said. "We'll play it by ear; she'll get the ball about six or seven innings depending on how the first game goes. We'll see if we can split some of those innings up."

Cleaning up their performance in the field would be ideal, but picking up two solid non-conference wins would be even better. Nicholson said the Cardinals must be ready off the get-go, from that first inning and that first pitch.

"Scoring early is important," he said. "We have to get back in the mode of playing defense and having good at-bats. Our defense caused us a game this weekend. We're a good defensive team, we need to take care of our side of the ball and offensively we'll come around."


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