Sowers’ power surge coming at right time

LEXINGTON, Ky. — During Indiana’s first practice after the Big Ten Tournament, Chris Lemonis and Logan Sowers shared a conversation.

They talked about calming down and finding patience after Sowers, Indiana’s slugging right fielder, endured a woeful start to the postseason. The junior collected only one hit in 15 at-bats during the conference tournament, striking out eight times during IU’s three-game run.

This weekend in the NCAA Tournament, Sowers has put those troubles far behind him.

He’s 6-for-9 with seven RBIs after two games, hitting three home runs to help Indiana power past Ohio, 11-2, on Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to him,” Lemonis said.

Sowers, last season’s team MVP, is enjoying a resurgent weekend for the Hoosiers, starring as a heavy-hitting threat in the middle of Indiana’s lineup.

The Big Ten Tournament aside, it’s been a strong second half of the season for Sowers, who was batting merely .184 on March 24. Since then, he’s raised his average to .289 on the year, giving Indiana one more lumbering bat in a lineup full of them.

“This kid over the last eight weeks of the season has been phenomenal,” Lemonis said. “Really, a key to the season for us.”

Over his last 38 games, Sowers is batting .339 (53-for-156) with nine of his 12 home runs coming in that span.

Earlier in the year, Lemonis felt the pressures of junior year baseball may have weighed on Sowers. The former Indiana Mr. Baseball is draft eligible for the first time, and Lemonis could see Sowers was, at times, trying to do too much at the plate.

In 58 games this year, Sowers has struck out 73 times.

“He’s a big muscular kid, and when he tries too hard he muscles up a little bit and swings and misses some,” Lemonis said. “When he gets a couple of hits — even in the game last night when he got the first (RBI double), then I was like, ‘Alright.’ He’s one of those kids that when he gets the first one, you feel like he’s going to get some. He’s done that.”

On Saturday, Sowers became the fifth player in program history to hit three home runs in a game, and the first since Jerrud Sabourin accomplished the feat in 2010. Byron Bradley holds the single-game record of four in a game against Tri-State in 1992.

Two of Sowers’ blast were solo shots, while the third was a three-run homer to left field.

“It seems like anything can happen (after you hit two),” Sowers said. “It seemed like the last one was a pop fly, but it kept carrying.”

And Indiana hopes that Sowers’ recent stretch can carry into Sunday.

“It was tough to watch that in the Big Ten Tournament because I know how hot he had been,” Lemonis said. “But it’s nice to see him reap the rewards here in the NCAA Tournament.”