IU softball will enter a seven-game home stretch full of confidence after a strong tournament showing this weekend.
The Hoosiers went 5-0 at the UofM Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, which the University of Memphis played host to. The performance followed an 0-5 display at the Judi Garman Classic in California.
The team’s turnaround performance was evident both in the circle and in the batter’s box. IU won two extra-inning games Friday, before recording three consecutive mercy-rule victories to close the tournament.
“We found a way to win those two games Friday and it kind of got the little monkey off our backs,” IU Coach Michelle Gardner said. “We were able to just stay within the game plan and execute.”
Friday’s wins against Western Illinois and Lipscomb each came in eight innings. Freshman pitcher Emily Goodin tossed a complete game, allowing only one hit to the Fighting Leathernecks.
On offense, IU mustered three hits, with freshman catcher Bella Norton recording an RBI single for its only run. This came in part due to the NCAA’s use of the international tiebreaker rule, in which a runner is placed at second base to begin each half-inning past the seventh.
This was also how IU pulled out its second win Friday. With the score tied 2-2 against Lipscomb, freshman Gabbi Jenkins slapped a single to left field to score sophomore utility player Sarah Galovich.
“We have a very good team dynamic,” Jenkins said. “We all know that the person behind you will get it done if you can’t.”
The extra-inning heroics of Norton and Jenkins wouldn’t have been possible if not for Goodin and sophomore pitcher Tara Trainer.
Trainer started against Lipscomb and allowed two runs in five innings, striking out six batters. Goodin came in for the final three innings and allowed zero hits.
Goodin picked up her third and final win of the weekend in IU’s third game, a 16-4 blowout win over Oakland in six innings. She came on in relief of sophomore pitcher Emily Kirk and tossed four and one-third innings of shutout work.
“We have a better opportunity to win when Emily Goodin throws well,” Gardner said. “She just goes out there and doesn’t try to be something she’s not. She keeps us in games.”
Eight different Hoosiers got a hit in the win against the Golden Grizzlies, including three hits each from Jenkins and junior outfielder Rebecca Blitz.
Jenkins has moved into the leadoff spot in the team’s batting order, a spot that used to be occupied by Blitz. After struggling to hit in their prior roles, both players saw their batting averages steadily increase this weekend.
“It’s no different than any other role,” Jenkins said. “It’s about just getting to hit the ball, and everyone around you begins to hit as well.”
While Goodin claimed IU’s first three victories in Memphis, Trainer earned the last two.
Trainer threw complete games in IU’s 9-1 win against Memphis and IU’s 8-0 shutout of Buffalo. Both games ended early after five innings.
“When Tara and Emily throw well, it gives confidence to everybody,” Gardner said. “Tara was able to limit her walks and those kids just kept us in ball games.”
The five-game win streak is IU’s first since a stretch in March 2016. Offensive production was a key part of it as the Hoosiers plated 37 runs this weekend. By comparison, IU had scored only 56 total runs in 19 games prior to the tournament.
With the Hoosier Classic taking place next weekend at Andy Mohr Field, Gardner said she hopes to continue the positive offensive momentum.
“We could have pressed really bad on Friday, but we found a way to get some runs,” Gardner said. “We just need to stay relaxed.”
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