IU softball wins home opener

IU beat Bowling Green 3-2 Thursday in its home opener at Andy Mohr Field.

It was the first time this season the players were able to play in front of friends and family, yet the coaching staff had different reasons for its excitement.

“I hope to be able to sleep in my own bed for more three days straight, so hopefully the weather starts to get better,” IU Coach Michelle Gardner said.

For the group known as the “Fantastic Freshman,” it was the first home game of their careers, but for the seniors, it was their final first home game.

“I was talking to Taylor (Uden) before the game, and she was like, ‘This is my first home game’ and I was telling her that this is my last first home game,” senior pitcher Lora Olson said. “We had a little moment.”

After Olson got herself out a pair of jams in both the first and second innings, she found herself with the bases loaded and only one out in the third inning. She minimized the damage once again, but surrendered the first run of the game to give the Falcons an early 1-0 lead.

The Hoosiers left quite a few runners on base during the game but were finally able to get the bats going in the fifth inning with some two-out magic. Sophomore Erin Lehman brought in the tying run on an RBI double, which was then followed up with a pair of RBI base hits from junior Kelsey Dotson and senior Shannon Cawley to give the Hoosiers a 3-1 lead.

The Falcons responded by scoring once in the sixth inning, but that was the closest Olson let them get, as she pitched a complete game and gave up only two runs on 10 hits.

“I was trying to work side to side and use my pitches but most importantly stick to my game plan,“ Olson said. “The infield is always in my ear so it keeps me going to want to pitch better.”

The Hoosiers’ game Friday will be against North Dakota State (14-5). This will be the first meeting between the two schools.

Saturday’s game will put the Hoosiers up against Wright State (1-14). This will be the 11th meeting between the two schools, with IU leading the all-time series 8-2 and the previous win coming last year in a 6-1 victory.

IU will come back later that afternoon to play in game two of a Saturday doubleheader against Bowling Green (5-10). Between the two schools, the Hoosiers have never lost, winning all seven games up to this point, including the opening day victory this weekend.

On Sunday, the Hoosiers will play the IU-Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons, who have yet to record a win this season.

In the three meetings against the two schools, the Hoosiers have outscored the Mastodons 60-7, including a 41-4 victory in 1976. History alone gives the Hoosiers a great opportunity to end their home opening weekend on a strong note.

During the past few weeks, Gardner has been stressing to her players that they need to keep on battling, and eventually the wins will start to come.

The players have received that message and have been focusing on the smaller details at hand.

“We are just trying to focus on the little things,” Dotson said. “We are going into these games now focusing on one pitch at a time, one groundball at a time.”

With the win against Bowling Green, the Hoosiers have pushed closer to a program milestone with a chance to surpass it this weekend at home. The Hoosiers are now just three wins away from reaching the 1,000 wins mark. Since the program began in 1974, the Hoosiers have posted an all-time record of 997-985-8.

“I think it would be amazing for this team to be able to reach something like that at home,” Gardner said. “That would really be something special.”

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