With a full count in the bottom of the seventh inning, IU senior infielder Taylor Uden was in a familiar position.
She had hit a walk-off home run earlier this season, against No. 14 Michigan, that kept IU near the top of the Big Ten Conference standings. On Friday night, she saw the same result.
Uden sent a walk-off homer over the left-center field fence to give the Hoosiers a 2-1 victory against Illinois in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Madison, Wisconsin.
It was a game originally scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. EST start time, but it didn’t begin until 8:45 p.m. due to rain delays from the game prior to IU's.
Illinois got on the board first with a solo home run in the top of the second, but IU junior infielder Sarah Galovich responded with a home run of her own to tie the game through two innings. After those home runs, neither team could find an offensive groove as it became a pitcher’s duel.
The Hoosiers had a chance to take the lead in the fifth after putting two runners on base with one out ,but Uden was caught stealing to end the threat. Then, the Fighting Illini put two on themselves in the top of the sixth with no outs, nut IU was able to then pick up three straight outs, highlighted by a diving grab from freshman outfielder Taylor Lambert.
In the top of the seventh, a walk and fielding error gave Illinois another two-runner situation with no outs. With her 135th pitch of the game, Trainer got the Hoosiers out of the frame unscathed with a pair of strikeouts and a pop-up. Illinois failed to score in any of its nine game situations with runners on base.
With the win, IU advanced to its first Big Ten Tournament semifinal since 2006. IU will play Minnesota in the semifinal.
Minnesota presents a tough challenge for the Hoosiers. The Gophers have won 19 of their last 21 games and seven straight Big Ten Tournament games, including last year’s tournament.
One of the main reasons Minnesota has been so successful this season has been the play of sophomore catcher Kendyl Lindaman. She’s the back-to-back reigning Big Ten Player of the Year after batting .348 with 19 home runs this past season.
Minnesota holds the 52-42 all-time series advantage against IU and has won the past seven games. In 2017, the Gophers swept IU by a combined score of 29-8 and took two of the victories against the Hoosiers in five innings.