Indiana Daily Student

Maddie Westmoreland a major key in the success of IU softball

<p>Freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland yells to the outfield in the final inning of IU’s game on March 18 against the University of Illinois at Chicago. Westmoreland and teammate Tara Trainer earned Big Ten weekly honors after sweeping Penn State.&nbsp;</p>

Freshman catcher Maddie Westmoreland yells to the outfield in the final inning of IU’s game on March 18 against the University of Illinois at Chicago. Westmoreland and teammate Tara Trainer earned Big Ten weekly honors after sweeping Penn State. 

Sophomore Maddie Westmoreland has been primarily known as a power hitter.

As a freshman, she earned First Team All-Big Ten honors after leading IU softball with 10 home runs and having the second-most runs batted in for a single season in program history with 52.

“Pretty early on she showed power and the ability to drive the ball,” IU Coach Shonda Stanton said. “I would say it was about 10-12 games in that you could see that.”

In 2018, Westmoreland earned Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Week twice. The only other Hoosier to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors last season was senior pitcher Tara Trainer, who did it once.

The first time Westmoreland got the recognition was March 26 after IU swept then-No. 18 Ohio State to begin to turn the season around. She had a .429 batting average, 1.429 slugging percentage, seven RBIs and two home runs in the series.

The second time came April 23 after IU swept Penn State. Westmoreland had a .857 batting average with nine RBIs, six hits, three runs and two home runs that week. She also had a career-high five RBIs in the series opener.

Westmoreland made her presence felt early on as a Hoosier and is now primed to build on that success as a sophomore.

“For me personally, I was so driven to make a change here at Indiana,” Westmoreland said. “I think with Coach Stanton here, it’s been awesome to start. I think last year I was just really into being with the program and changing the face of Indiana softball, making us more legitimate as a program.”

Despite the ability to hit it deep, it was her small-ball play that helped the Hoosiers mount a comeback against then-No. 6 Georgia in the 2019 season-opening weekend.

Earlier in practice before the season started, Stanton had her team get into groups and coach themselves. Their primary goal was to manufacture runs. Westmoreland’s team put her into an RBI situation during the drill rather than one that would have her want to hit it as hard as she could.

Stanton mentioned how after the drill, they told their team that Westmoreland was its best bunter. With IU down 2-0 to Georgia, Westmoreland put that ability to the test.

After back-to-back hits by sophomore Grayson Radcliffe and junior Bella Norton gave IU runners on the base paths, Westmoreland then laid down a bunt. It brought in the first run of the game and sparked the offense to eventually score five more runs and take the 6-4 statement victory.

“She was seeing some pitches, the first pitch we wanted to jump on in a bunt situation rather than swinging away,” Stanton said after the Georgia game. “It really just opened things up for us. Maddie had a great moment, she executed and owned it.”

Stanton didn’t sound surprised by the big play from Westmoreland and that’s due to her reliability in the heart of the lineup last season.

This season Stanton expects Westmoreland to be in that similar position in the lineup, but now other teams are more prepared for the big play from her.

In order to adapt this offseason, Westmoreland focused on her bat speed, getting more in rhythm and being ready for more off-speed pitches to come.

“I think the really big expectation for myself is to be in the present,” Westmoreland said. “Sometimes you look at your old stats and want to always be better than that but my expectation this year is to go out and have fun. In the offseason, I’ve trained enough to become a bigger hitter and a better player.”

After a third-place finish in the Big Ten standings last season and a strong start to the 2019 campaign, IU is expected to be back in the middle of the conversation for another top-4 seed in the conference tournament.

If IU wants to continue building on the success that was found in the second half of last season, Westmoreland figures to play another big part again as a consistent threat in the lineup.

As the No. 24 team in the country, the rest of the nation is just now learning how good IU can be. With that, Westmoreland has become a key foundation in how special the Hoosiers can truly be when it’s all said and done.

"We as an entire team have proven that we are committed to this team and committed to move forward," Westmoreland said. "We’re looking forward to getting better and just setting up our expectations athletically, academically and even socially. We really want to impact the community and change IU softball as a whole.”

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