NCAA tournament baseball in Bloomington?
Indiana’s sparkling new Bart Kaufman Field and the Hoosiers’ stellar 19-3 start this season is creating conversation nationally about IU possibly hosting a NCAA regional this year.
Baseball America writer Aaron Fitt — who recently made the rounds in Tennessee and Kentucky before attending Wednesday’s Louisville-at-Indiana game, won 6-2 by the host Hoosiers — is already talking about it.
And in a Baseball America blog chat Monday, Figg made it pretty clear he thinks the Hoosiers have a legitimate shot to make it a reality:
“I really do believe in that Indiana team,” Fitt wrote. “I think they are loaded, very dangerous. I would have gladly moved them up higher (in the national rankings) if there was room to do so. I’ll tell you what, I think that team is going to host a regional this year, and they could win that regional.”
IU coach Tracy Smith and his Hoosiers have other things to think about first, such as resuming Big Ten play this weekend at Iowa, but Smith acknowledges that hosting NCAA play is one of several Hoosier goals this season.
“One of the … things we want to do is to host a regional,” Smith said Wednesday. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. I’ve never been that way. But I do think it’s a situation where, yeah, you have to look at it.
“I think it would be an unbelievable opportunity for a community like Bloomington and, for college baseball in general, just to have northern schools having an opportunity to host a regional. But we’re not there yet. We’ll let the season develop a little bit before we get too excited about that.”
Smith’s Hoosiers, ranked 19th nationally, have won 12 straight games, the longest current streak among Division I clubs. But it would behoove them to win the Big Ten if they wish to sustain any momentum toward hosting a regional.
Fitt, during press box conversations Wednesday, did note that the NCAA tournament committee isn’t averse to the notion of rewarding meritorious northern teams — especially from schools that have made investments in their baseball programs, such as that manifested by IU’s new facility.