Life can be difficult on the road, but for the Hoosiers, the road brought out the best in them.
IU swept its second Big Ten team on the road this weekend after outscoring Maryland behind a few big innings. IU combined for 33 hits and six home runs, but one player had a hit in at least one of the three games.
“One of the biggest things we’ve talked about is stringing hits together, and we did that well this weekend,” freshman outfielder Taylor Lambert said. “I think we had a whole different mindset coming in and we knew that offense was going to be a big part of our weekend. We just flipped a switch.”
Senior infielder Taylor Uden shined in game one of the series.
Her RBI double to right center got things started for IU in the top of the second. Then, Lambert singled, and a fielding error brought in Uden to give IU the early 2-0 lead. But the Hoosiers pulled away in the third.
Senior infielder Rachel O’Malley laid a perfect RBI bunt to bring in the third run. Another fielding error by Maryland brought in another run for IU. Uden came up clutch again as she launched a three-run homer to left field to give IU a 7-0 advantage. Maryland scored a single run in the bottom of the third, but IU made sure to continue pouring it on.
Senior outfielder Rebecca Blitz stole home, and sophomore infielder Katie Lacefield brought in another run with an RBI single to make it a 9-1 lead. For the first time this season, IU clinched the victory in five innings after taking a 10-1 lead in the top of the fifth.
After her performance in game one, junior Tara Trainer became the fifth pitcher in IU history to throw 500 career strikeouts.
“She was so clutch,” IU Coach Shonda Stanton said about Uden. “We’ve been telling our athletes all year to stay in the moment, it’s not about your average, it’s not about the end result, just stay in the process. Credit to her, she toughed it out this weekend. I think we turned the corner. Hopefully this is her coming out party.”
The Hoosiers followed up their best offensive performance of the season with a home run clinic.
After both teams were scoreless in the first two innings, Lacefield got IU on the board first with a three-run shot to right center in the top of the third. Maryland then tied the game in the bottom of the fifth with a bases-clearing triple.
The sixth inning saw IU take a commanding lead. Sophomore designated hitter Bella Norton gave IU the lead with an RBI single. Then Lambert and freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland each had a home run to give the Hoosiers a 9-3 advantage.
Behind the first three home run performances of the season, IU clinched its second Big Ten series.
“There were moments in the game that it wasn’t easy, but I think what was nice was seeing the long ball,” Stanton said. “The big hit was exciting this weekend because that’s how you break the game open.”
It took a huge seventh inning performance for IU to clinch the series sweep.
After IU took a 2-0 lead, Maryland made it a one-run game after an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth. The Terrapins threatened to open the flood gates in the bottom of the sixth after putting runners on second and third with no outs. But Trainer came in and got three strait outs to get the Hoosiers out of the jam unscathed.
O’Malley and junior infielder Sarah Galovich got things started in the top of the seventh with a pair of RBI singles. Norton kept things going with a three-run home run, then Lambert followed with a solo shot to left center to cap off a 9-1 series sweeping win.
“I think that we have a lot of confidence because of the first weekend,” Lambert said. “We can beat anyone if we want to. We want to show people that we can do it on the road, not just at home.”
This weekend was nothing short of a dominating performance from IU behind the plate. It was the third conference sweep of the season and was something the Hoosiers needed to see after only scoring one run in the second game against Butler earlier in the week. Things don’t get any easier as IU welcomes Louisville to Andy Mohr Field on Wednesday.
“I felt like we were able to do it all; from the long ball to the small ball, to stealing bags, we were extremely aggressive,” Stanton said. “We had the big hits, the clutch hits and were able to capitalize on the mistakes that the defense made. Offensive production wise, it was an outstanding weekend.”
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