After dropping the first two games of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, IU softball was one loss away from the worst start in program history.
It took a comeback and clutch hitting, but Shonda Stanton was able to pick up her first win as the IU head coach.
The Hoosiers went 1-3 on the weekend, splitting the series with Boston College and were swept by Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
“I’m excited for them to get the monkey off our back with the first win," Stanton said.
The Hoosiers opened the weekend flat against Boston College. They only had two hits on the day and couldn’t overcome the early two run hole.
A home run in the seventh inning capped off the game for the Eagles as they took the first one of the series, 4-0.
It was an improved effort by IU in the following game against Georgia Tech. But the Yellow Jackets scored three of their four their runs in the third inning after the Hoosiers walked two runs with the bases loaded and a sacrifice fly brought in another.
IU again couldn’t find timely hits on the day with runners in scoring position. The Hoosiers had seven hits, including a triple by sophomore outfielder Gabbi Jenkins, but they were still unable to bring someone home. The Yellow Jackets won, 4-1, for their first victory of the season.
“I don’t think that they were the better team, but they were able to come out on top,” senior infielder Taylor Uden said. “I think that we gave them the game in some aspects. Where we need to be better is fighting when needing to fight and just learning how to rally back.”
On Saturday, it seemed as if it’d be the same story for the Hoosiers. Boston College had more hits on the day, IU had five errors and the Eagles were out to a 2-0 lead heading into the third inning.
But that’s where everything changed for the Hoosiers.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Uden was walked to bring senior infielder Rachel O’Malley in for the first run. Then, sophomore infielder Katie Lacefield came up clutch with a double down the left field line to bring in three more runs.
IU kept its foot on the pedal, scoring two more runs in the fourth inning.
The Eagles scored one run in the bottom of the fourth to try to attempt a comeback. That was until freshman designated hitter Maddie Westmoreland doubled to center field in the seventh to extend the lead by two runs. IU was able to capture their first win of the season.
“It felt good,” Uden said. “It was a long time coming, but I think that we needed it and it was a good team win. We had a lot of mistakes in the game, but I think it showed that our team has fight and no matter what was happening in the game we were still able to pick up the win.”
IU capped off the weekend with another 4-1 loss to Georgia Tech on Sunday. The Hoosiers were in a 3-0 hole early but couldn’t capitalize with the bases loaded to make a comeback. The Yellow Jackets had a pair of home runs and played solid defense to maintain the lead throughout.
It wasn’t the result the Hoosiers wanted out of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but they’ll take the win and learn from it as they travel to Homewood, Alabama, on Feb. 23-25 to take on Limpscomb and Samford.
“We’ve got to have progress in the process,” Stanton said. “I felt that today we took a couple steps backwards but prior to that, I felt like we were seeing some good things and turning a corner with some kids. We have four more weekends to continue to make that progress so we can be ready for the Big Ten.”
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