Heading into the game against Northern Kentucky, Ball State coach Rich Maloney expects to see quite a few arms going throughout the course of the game.
With a weekend upcoming against Western Michigan, Maloney wants to make sure all of his pitchers will be available for the conference series, and not burn somebody out against non-conference Northern Kentucky.
The Norse come into the game struggling, holding a 3-24 record. Maloney said the record isn’t important considering the circumstances.
“You can throw out the record when it’s a midweek game,” Maloney said. “We’re going to pitch about five or six guys, so who knows what will happen.”
He said Clay Manering will get the start, but won’t be expected to throw more than two or three innings in order to keep him fresh for the weekend.
With so many different pitchers participating, it adds a lot more room for error to occur, nullifying the team’s records. Instead, Maloney said he wants his team to focus on throwing strikes.
It’s something teams have done well against Northern Kentucky. The team has just three players batting over .250, and are averaging just 3.2 runs per game.
Northern Kentucky’s Brad Clement is the only player on the team batting over .300. His .323 average leads the team, and he leads in every single offensive category.
Despite the struggling opponent, Cody Campbell doesn’t want to look ahead to the weekend.
“Every opponent is approached the same way for us,” Campbell said. “Don’t get too high and don’t get too low, know that the playing field is even, and try to ride it out for a win.”
Sometimes teams will play down to their level of competition and find it difficult to get excited about playing a below-average opponent. Maloney doesn’t think that will be the case, mainly because of the game plan he employs.
It doesn’t revolve around defeating the opponent, but making sure his players challenge themselves. When a player tries to improve on his previous performance, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is because he’ll always be challenging himself.
“We just want to go out there and throw strikes, get a timely hit and make routine plays,” Maloney said, reciting the plan he uses for every game. “When we do that, we don’t have to try and get up for a struggling team because it’s more like we’re playing against ourselves.”
For Ball State, making the routine play has been anything but that lately. Errors have led to several unearned runs over the past two series’ and could have cost the team a few wins.
“We’ve got to start fielding better. We were doing great for a long time, [but] now we’ve fallen into a rut,” Maloney said. “Solid fielding has to be a staple for our team to have success.”
First pitch against Northern Kentucky is at 3 p.m. at Ball Diamond.