For the third consecutive season, IU was left with an empty feeling after its series with Purdue.
The Hoosiers and Boilermakers split their third consecutive two-game series Tuesday night. Although this time, the series sweep was in IU’s hands.
After defeating Purdue 4-0 in the opening game of the doubleheader, IU had a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning of the day’s second game.
With a runner at second and one out, Purdue junior outfielder Kaylah Hampton was struck out by IU sophomore pitcher Emily Kirk. Hampton still reached first base, though, after junior catcher Shayna Gamm dropped the third strike and badly missed junior infielder Taylor Uden on a throw to first base.
This started a rally for Purdue that culminated in a two-run single by senior pitcher Katie Johnson.
“We made a bad play to put them in a situation to take a lead,” IU Coach Michelle Gardner said.
The late comeback from Purdue, 16-27 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten, erased what had been a masterful pitching performance by Kirk. Kirk walked no batters, allowed only four hits and took a shutout into the seventh.
An error and three hits later, Purdue had scored twice, and Kirk was on the hook for the eventual loss.
In the first game, sophomore pitcher Tara Trainer maintained a shutout through all seven innings of her complete-game win. Trainer improved her record to 10-11 with a six-strikeout performance.
“I’m very happy with both of them,” Gardner said. “Both did a good job. I hope it gives them a lot of confidence because they really, really did a good job and deserved to win.”
The run support given to Trainer largely came courtesy of freshman utility player Katie Lacefield.
Hitting sixth in the batting order instead of in her usual ninth spot, Lacefield picked up a career-best three RBI in the win via a bases-loaded walk, a single and a double.
“I was seeing the ball pretty well off the pitcher,” Lacefield said. “I was trying to look early in the count.”
Lacefield’s batting average rose to .304 thanks to her performance, which puts her fourth among IU players.
“She’s gotten a little bit better every weekend,” Gardner said. “I really felt like she saw the ball well and was doing some good things.”
Very few Hoosiers did well at the plate come Tuesday’s second game. Aside from a four-hit showing by freshman utility player Gabbi Jenkins, only two other Hoosiers recorded a hit.
Even more damning were the seven runners IU left on base in the defeat.
“Everything is timely in this game,” Gardner said. “It shouldn’t have been a one-run ballgame. Period.”
The lack of offense by IU meant Kirk remains winless for the season. It’s the second time this month Kirk has thrown a complete game and allowed three or fewer runs for IU, only to receive the loss.
“Sometimes it’s just tough,” Lacefield said. “We’re hitting balls well, just right at them. We’re not always going to have timely hitting, but we need to make those adjustments and look to score earlier.”
IU, 18-22 overall and 4-7 in the Big Ten, has swept six of its 15 doubleheaders this season and must recover from the sting of Tuesday’s late stumble in time for a weekend trip to No. 25 Ohio State.
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