All season long, IU Coach Shonda Stanton has been preaching to her team that it’s about the process instead of the results.
The process came full circle this weekend as the Hoosiers swept No. 18 Ohio State to open Big Ten play at Andy Mohr Field.
“We’ve been preaching that it’s all about Big Ten play,” Stanton said. “Ohio State is a quality opponent. I’m just proud of our group. We sent a statement today that we are going to show up and play ball."
In the first game, the Hoosiers dominated the Buckeyes from start to finish.
Freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland continued her hot streak in the bottom of the first with a two-run shot to right field as the Hoosiers took a lead they would never relinquish. Senior outfielder Rebecca Blitz added to the score in the following inning with an RBI single to the shortstop followed by an RBI fly out from Westmoreland to make it a 4-0 Hoosier advantage early on.
After a home run by sophomore infielder Katie Lacefield and another Blitz RBI in the bottom of the fourth, IU held a commanding 6-0 lead. Despite the stellar hitting by the Hoosiers, it was junior pitcher Tara Trainer who kept Ohio State from fighting back.
Trainer never squandered in the circle as she threw 12 strikeouts and only gave up two hits. With the 6-0 victory, it gave the Hoosiers their first ranked win of the season and the first shutout as well.
“I really think it’s just stringing hits together,” Westmoreland said. “It’s more of getting those clutch hits and focusing on the result.”
The rematch on Friday saw IU battle back to prove the preceding game wasn’t a fluke.
Ohio State finally got on the scoreboard this weekend in the top of the fourth after a double to left center and a fielder’s choice made it a 2-0 lead. The bottom of the fifth is when IU came alive.
After senior infielder Taylor Uden singled up the middle to score the first run, Blitz recorded another RBI to bring in another. It was Westmoreland who broke the game open with another home run over left-center to give IU a 5-2 lead. Ohio State would score another run off a fielding error to make it only a close 5-3 game.
That was until the Hoosiers officially put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth.
Freshman outfielder Taylor Lambert got things started with a double to left center, bringing in Uden. Then a defensive miscommunication by the Buckeyes allowed Lambert to steal home. Blitz continued her solid weekend with another single to third base that resulted in a throwing error by Ohio State to bring in another IU run. Blitz went to score the final IU run of the day after a Westmoreland sacrifice bunt.
The Buckeyes only had two hits again in the second game after a complete game performance from sophomore Emily Goodin in the circle.
With the 9-3 victory, the Hoosiers secured their first back-to-back wins over a ranked opponent for the first time since 2013.
“We stayed the course then Westmoreland provided the knockout punch with the 3-run homer,” Stanton said. “I was completely pleased with the team effort this weekend.”
The final game of the weekend saw IU win in dramatic fashion.
After both teams scored in the first inning, it was a defensive grind until the end. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, senior infielder Rachel O’Malley knocked a double through the left side to clear the bases.
IU held on until the end to win 4-1. The Hoosiers outscored Ohio State 19-4 on the weekend.
“We got the clutch hits when we needed them and got quality pitching,” Stanton said. “O’Malley came up with the clutch moment, it was nice to see a senior come up and have that moment.”
Stanton said in February to watch out for her team come April. March isn’t over yet, but the Hoosiers looked like a completely different team to open Big Ten play. IU will look to ride this weekend’s success against Western Kentucky on Tuesday.
“I really think it just shows that we can beat anyone,” Westmoreland said. “Ohio State’s a great team, and they have a great pitching staff, great coaching staff. It proves that we can beat anyone as long as we do the little things well. There’s no one that can stop us besides us.”
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