The University of Indianapolis baseball team will start their 2024 campaign in hopes of making a return trip to the Divison II College World Series. The Hounds’ season opener is set to begin on Feb. 16. The 2024 National Preseason Poll has the Hounds at No. 6, according to the NCBWA Polls. The Hounds ended last season with a 39-21 overall record, according to UIndy Athletics. For the first time in 11 years, UIndy baseball competed in the 2023 DII College World Series where they lost in double elimination to Millersville and Cal State San Bernardino, according to UIndy Athletics.
According to Baseball Head Coach Al Ready, the Hounds had an impressive offense last season, and the team has returned 6 of 9 starters on offense. According to Ready, some notable returners include Will Spear, Nick Lukac, Easton Good, Zack Williams, First Team All-Region Caleb Vaughn and First Team All-American Drew Donaldson. Ready said the Hounds averaged close to 10 runs per game last season. According to Ready, one of the unique traits that this year’s team brings, along with talent, is experience.
“I think one of the things to note is our last trip to Cary in 2012 is that we were all seniors and, you know, the same sort of situation [happened last season.] We played well,” Ready said. “We lost a couple of close games in 2012, but in that case, everybody was gone. In 2023, we were young and like I said, almost everybody’s back and when you lose a couple of close ones, but you’re there and you experience it and you realize, ‘Wow, we could have won,’ and then you have everybody back. That’s what I’m really excited about.”
This year’s team doesn’t have to focus as much on the fundamentals, according to Ready. He said the team culture is important and can feed into the dynamic on the field. Ready said that with a lot of returning players there’s no reason to think that the team chemistry is going to be an issue this year.
“Each year the team is different, and so you have to approach things differently each year,” Ready said. “This being a veteran group of guys,, we don’t have to really rely on focusing on our plays specifically, like our bunt coverages and our first and third situations, just situation-type plays, because they already know them. We’re about three weeks away from taking the field here, so we’re really trying to get our pitchers ramped up right now and not really having to worry about teaching guys our plays and things like that because they already know. If you have a younger team, it’s the exact opposite.”
Fifth year senior and second baseman Drew Donaldson said that one of his goals as an older player on the team is to lead by example. He said it is important to show the younger guys what it means to be a Greyhound athlete. According to Donaldson, this means being a good teammate, holding his head up no matter what happens and holding himself accountable.
“[What is] different from this year to last year is that you can tell that this year everybody has bought into the goal we have of reproducing what we did last year, going to Cary and being there for the World Series but now, we got a taste of it,” Donaldson said. “Now we all have the same goal of, yes, getting to Cary, but then winning the World Series. Now we all believe that we can do it, and we all have that same goal, same mindset.”
According to Ready, the team took advantage of the transfer portal this year with some impressive new players Greyhound fans can be on the lookout for. Ready said some of the new talent includes Jackson Kirkpatrick, Dawson Gabe, Cole Hampton, Dakota Sill, Payton Plym and Jake Barbeau.
“Hounds have a different energy this year,” Donaldson said.“You can feel it every day in practice, and you’re gonna feel it during every inning, every pitch in a game.”According to Ready, the team was supposed to play Notre Dame College the weekend of Feb. 16 but the series was canceled. According to UIndy Athletics, the first game the Hounds will play will be the weekend of Feb. 23 in a series against Georgia Southwestern.