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IU softball looks to gain momentum ahead of the Big Ten Tournament

Sarah Galovich

Junior utility player Sarah Galovich waits for the pitch during IU's home game against the University of Illinois at Chicago on Sunday, March 18. The Hoosiers will travel to Rutgers for a three-game series this weekend. Matt Begala Buy Photos

In its final conference series of the season, IU softball has a chance to make history.

If IU can sweep Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey, this weekend, it’ll mark 19 Big Ten wins on the season – good for second most in IU history and the team's most since 1994.

“Our mindset is just calm, very driven and motivated,” junior infielder Sarah Galovich said. “We’re not going to make this a bigger deal than it is. We’re going to go in there, get the job done and come out successful.”

Rutgers sits in last place in the Big Ten with a 2-15 record and has a 15-game losing streak. The Hoosiers have previously found success against the bottom teams in the conference like Purdue, Penn State and Maryland.

Despite the two teams' opposite fortunes this season, Rutgers holds the all-time advantage against IU, 8-7, and has won eight of the past 11 matchups. In 2017, IU defeated Rutgers a combined 32-7 in the first two games before failing to close out the sweep, losing 7-5.

“Our goal this weekend is to be very aggressive at the plate,” IU Coach Shonda Stanton said. “It’s an opportunity for us to tune-up and really feel good about going into the Big Ten Tournament. We respect our opponent, but it’s about us right now staying in the moment.”

For the Scarlet Knights, senior infielder Rebecca Hall has been their best player all season. She leads the team with a .379 batting average, 58 hits, 38 RBIs and seven home runs. Hall is one of two players who bat over .300. In Big Ten play, Rutgers as a team ranks ninth in the conference with a .249 BA.

Rutgers has shown an ability to put runs on the board, but the problem all season has been in the circle. The Scarlet Knights rank last in the Big Ten with a 7.20 ERA, and have given up 178 hits and 33 home runs in just the 17 conference games.

Last weekend against Michigan State, Rutgers failed to score more than two runs in each game and gave up 25 combined hits in the series.

“I think we just want to carry our home with us and dominate wherever we are,” Galovich said. “We want to just show everybody that we’re here to win and we’re not messing around.”

Against No. 15 Michigan last weekend, IU only scored one combined run in two of the three games. Now, the Hoosiers have the perfect opportunity to find momentum at the plate with the Big Ten Tournament just around the corner.

“It’s an exciting weekend, you want to go in strong to the conference tournament,” Stanton said. “Our athletes feel really good about what we came off of last weekend. We’re going up to Rutgers and are going to play one pitch at a time. We know what we’re fighting for, we’re fighting for that bye still. We’re full steam ahead.”

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