IU softball won three games in just 17 innings this weekend against Penn State. Each game is normally seven innings unless a team scores eight runs or more by the time the fifth inning is up, which is exactly what the Hoosiers did in two of the three games.
Behind a stellar performance from junior Tara Trainer in the circle, the Hoosiers swept Penn State for their fourth Big Ten sweep of the conference season. IU outscored the Nittany Lions by a combined 19 runs and won two of the games in only five innings of work.
“She had a great weekend," IU Coach Shonda Stanton said. "I think she did a good job working ahead of hitters and I think we’re playing good defense behind her. When you get a no-hitter, it’s a combination of everyone doing their jobs. I couldn’t be more pleased with what we’re seeing out of Tara Trainer right now.”
A standout outing from Trainer propelled IU to the first win of the weekend.
After two innings, the game was scoreless before the Hoosiers took over in the bottom of the third. Freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland scored the first runs of the day with a three-run home run that hit off the foul pole.
The Hoosiers officially pulled away in the bottom of the fourth. Senior outfielder Rebecca Blitz got things started with a single to third base to bring in the fourth IU run of the day. Westmoreland then followed up her home run with a single up the middle to score two more runs. Sophomore infielder Katie Lacefield made it a 7-0 lead with an RBI groundout to second base.
IU ended the game early as junior infielder Sarah Galovich walked off with a home run to center field to take the 8-0 victory in five innings. Trainer only gave up one hit in the shutout performance behind six strikeouts.
“It makes it really easy to go out there and throw my pitches when I know that my team is going to perform behind me and get some runs when we need it,” Trainer said.
The rematch on Saturday was a much closer game.
After Galovich ended the first game early, she was the one who got things going for the Hoosiers in game two. Her double to right center in the bottom of the second gave IU an early 1-0 lead. But, Penn State scored its first run of the weekend with a home run to right field to tie the game in the top of the third. The Hoosiers took the lead back for good in the bottom of the third after Lacefield singled up the middle to bring in Westmoreland.
Senior infielder Rachel O’Malley widened the gap with a single through the right side in the bottom of the fifth. The Hoosiers clinched the series with a 4-1 victory after not allowing a single run after giving up the home run in the third.
“We were attacking and hitting the right pitches,” Stanton said. “What’s fun is looking up and down our lineup, everyone is doing great things. I’m pleased with what I’m seeing. It’s a total team effort hitting the ball.”
Just like game one, IU made quick work of the Nittany Lions in the series-sweeping victory after Trainer threw a no-hitter in a performance that only lasted for 77 minutes.
IU got out to a hot start in the bottom of the first after Westmoreland singled up the middle to bring in a pair of runs. Lacefield then followed it up with a single of her own to center field to give IU an early 3-0 lead after the first.
With Trainer continuing to do work in the circle, the Hoosiers put the game away in the bottom of the third. Westmoreland hit her second home run of the series with a two-run shot to right field. IU jumped out to a 7-0 advantage after sophomore catcher Bella Norton singled to left field to score a pair of runs. Freshman outfielder Carolyn Kuhn then stole home base to give IU the 8-0 lead.
The shutout marked the first no-hitter in Big Ten play since 2009 for the Hoosiers.
IU is now 13-2 in Big Ten play and will travel to Purdue on Wednesday for a doubleheader before welcoming in the No.1 team in the conference, No. 17 Michigan on Saturday.
“You can just see the confidence grow with every win, with every pitch, with every good hit, with every good strikeout," Stanton said. "It’s just nice to see us as a team go out there and perform. Right now, it’s kind of fun and easy but we know it’s not always that way.”
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