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IU takes on last-place Penn State this weekend

Maddie Westmoreland

Freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland yells to the outfield in the final inning of IU’s game on March 18 against the University of Illinois at Chicago. Westmoreland and teammate Tara Trainer earned Big Ten weekly honors after sweeping Penn State.  Matt Begala Buy Photos

Big Ten play has presented IU softball the opportunity to turn its season around. Despite the slip-up against Louisville on Wednesday, the Hoosiers will take on Penn State this weekend in another series that IU has a chance to be a sweep.

IU has swept three conference opponents thus far and hasn’t lost once against the bottom teams in the Big Ten. Penn State comes into Andy Mohr Field with a 7-32 record and currently sits at the bottom of the conference at 3-11.

“We’ve got a great weekend with Penn State coming into town," IU Coach Shonda Stanton said. "The weather should be decent. It’s one game a day. What more could you want? Whether we finish the weekend 13-2 or 10-5, we’re in position for a top-four bye. Our goals are in front of us.”

The Hoosiers lead the all-time series, 39-31, but Penn State has taken the series in each of the past two seasons. In 2017, IU took the first game, but Penn State won the final two. The Nittany Lions have wins against Maryland, Michigan State and Rutgers in conference play. Penn State is only 2-10 on the road.

The struggles for Penn State have come at the plate. Junior utility player Tori Dubois is the only batter who hits above .300 with a .320 BA, but she does have seven home runs on the season. Penn State has scored five or more runs in just four out of 14 Big Ten games.

Senior Jessica Cummings and junior Madison Shaffer handle the load in the circle, but the duo has combined to give up 304 hits and only have 150 strikeouts on the season.

If the Hoosiers can take advantage of the poor pitching of Penn State, then it should be another high scoring weekend. Even though IU surrendered 11 runs to Louisville, Penn State presents the perfect opportunity to stay in the upper portion of the Big Ten.

“I think it’s great that we’re playing Penn State on our home field,” freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland said. “It’s a chance for us to dominate and prove to the Big Ten what we’re all about. We’re in a great position right now at 10-2 in the Big Ten conference.”

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