This wasn’t how IU softball expected to start their season.
The Hoosiers went a combined 0-5 for the weekend as it’s the first time since 2009 that IU lost the first five games of the season. It was also the first time IU went winless in the Kajikawa Classic.
“It’s not the start that we wanted,” IU Coach Shonda Stanton said. “What I’m pleased with is that we continued to fight, show up and play ball. We just didn’t do enough to get the job done.”
The first inning against Boise State in the opener foreshadowed how the weekend would go for the Hoosiers.
Boise State's freshman designated player Halle Harger hit a grand slam to put IU in an early hole. The Broncos then went on to score two more runs to make it a 6-0 deficit by the third inning.
IU finally got on the board when a RBI single from freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland brought in two runs.
IU began to rally as solo shot homeruns from senior infielder Taylor Uden and freshman designated player Annika Baez injected some life into the Hoosier offense. A double from sophomore Gabbi Jenkins brought in two more runs but that was it for the Hoosiers as they fell 7-6.
“We had opportunities,” Stanton said. “We had the chance to get a double play but didn’t get it done, then gave up the grand slam, it continued when we made mistake after mistake. I think that’s what gave Boise the win.”
Next against Oregon State, IU made mistake after mistake. The Hoosiers were up 1-0 through the fourth inning until the Beavers capitalized on defensive lapses in the fifth inning. An error by sophomore infielder Katie Lacefield allowed Beaver freshman infielder Camryn Ybarra to score.
A solo shot homerun by freshman infielder Missy Nunes in the sixth inning capped off the win for the Beavers, 4-1.
“I think what we can take away is that we’re just coming together and there’s a lot to be learned about each other and how we work together and what this year is going to look like and how everyone’s going to contribute,” Jenkins said.
IU played more of the same against Northwestern. Senior pitcher Tara Trainer had a perfect game through five innings and a homerun by Uden gave IU some hope for their first victory of the season. The Wildcats then scored five unanswered runs in the sixth inning.
The Hoosiers couldn’t get out of the inning as three runs scored with two outs on the board. After Trainer gave up four hits in the inning, she was pulled for sophomore Emily Goodin but she walked three straight batters to allow Northwestern to score another run.
It was another insistence of poor late game execution for the Hoosiers as they failed to score in the seventh inning and lost 5-1.
“There’s a difference about playing well and losing and not playing well and losing,” Stanton said. “I think this weekend we didn’t play well a lot of the time.”
San Jose State proved to be no different than the games before. After the first inning, they were tied with the Spartans 1-1. It was a defensive grind and Wood played her best game of the weekend with seven strikeouts and only one hit. But, in the seventh inning IU couldn’t put the game away.
Spartan sophomore infielder Cassidy Clark was able to score the winning run after a throwing error by senior shortstop Rachel O’Malley. It was the third game in a row where IU had the opportunity to win but late game mistakes proved fatal as San Jose State won 2-1.
“We beat ourselves in the Boise game, we beat ourselves in the Northwestern game and then the San Jose State game we didn’t make enough plays,” Stanton said.
For IU, their best defensive performance came against No. 23 Arizona State even though they fell 2-1.
It was a close contest throughout with Trainer only giving up runs in the third and fifth inning. IU didn’t have a single error, but the Sun Devils only allowed two hits on the day.
Freshman infielder Makayla Ferrari was a bright spot for the Hoosiers as she had her first homerun of her career in the sixth inning and led the Hoosiers with a .400 batting average.
IU will have to wait until next weekend in the Big Ten/ACC challenge to try to find their first win of the season.
“We’re very frustrated that we have to teach the team how to play, how to compete, how to win and how to prepare,” Stanton said. “I shouldn’t have to teach any individual how to compete, how to win or how to love the game, that should be instinctual. You’re an Indiana Hoosier, you represent a great university and I’m proud to be the coach of this group.”
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