The IU softball team is riding a wave of momentum from its current nine game winning streak, but it has little time to bask in this historic run to open the 2019 season.
This weekend’s Orange and Black Classic presents the Hoosiers with another round of stiff competition and a chance to extend their streak.
After knocking off then-No. 6 University of Georgia and sweeping both Syracuse University and Duke University last weekend, No. 19 IU travels to Macon, Georgia on Thursday as it prepares for a three-day, five-game stretch.
“As a team, we’re all feeling pretty confident right now,” junior infielder Katie Lacefield said. “It’s another opportunity to win five more games.”
IU will be joined in the Orange and Black Classic by host team Mercer University, Loyola University Chicago, University of Akron and North Carolina A&T State University.
The Loyola Ramblers, 9-0, present the Hoosiers with perhaps their toughest opponent thus far. Armed with one of the best pitching staffs in the nation, a 0.46 earned run average and speedy outfielder Jessica Shields, the Ramblers are also looking to extend their unbeaten season. At least one of the teams will receive its first loss of the season.
The Hoosiers come with ammunition of their own in the form of senior pitcher Tara Trainer, who was recently named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. With a shiny 1.27 ERA and five wins to her name, Trainer is expected to make her presence felt from the mound this weekend.
“If we’re in a tough game and need to get a win, she’s going to get the ball,” IU Head Coach Shonda Stanton said.
Mercer and North Carolina A&T enter play hungry to snap 5-game and 2-game losing skids, respectively. The Akron Zips bring a dangerous offense led by redshirt sophomore Sydney Jascoe and junior Samantha Malik, who have combined for three home runs and 16 RBI’s in 10 games.
The Hoosiers will need their tough mentality and hot hitting if they want to maintain their perfect record through this weekend, Stanton said. Above all else, they’re hoping to return to Bloomington with the national recognition and respect they feel they rightfully deserve.
“I think people are finally noticing us,” Stanton said.