On the heels of a four-game losing skid, IU softball entered this weekend desperately in search of its opportunistic bats and quality pitching. Both of those showed up in a big way.
IU had its conference home opener this weekend by welcoming Michigan State to Andy Mohr Field for a three-game series. At stake was a much needed confidence boost, as well as a chance to gain key wins in the early stages of conference play.
Initially, it looked like IU’s recent struggles had carried over to game one with Michigan State tacking on two early runs and a grand slam to take a 6-0 lead through four innings.
But it was only a matter of time before IU channeled the lion mentality that Head Coach Shonda Stanton has emphasized consistently throughout the season.
Senior infielder Sarah Galovich got the scoring started for IU with a run-scoring single, her first of three runs batted in on the day. Two batters later, sophomore center fielder Taylor Lambert cleared the bases with a deep triple to right center, one of two triples on the weekend for the leadoff hitter, cutting Michigan State’s lead to just two runs.
“I knew I needed to barrel up the ball. I’ve been struggling lately and my whole focus was just barreling up the ball,” Lambert said.
The Hoosiers would eventually bat around the lineup, scoring eight more runs in an inning that saw 12 runners cross the plate. Altogether, 10 different IU players scored a run in the game and five different players had multi-hit performances, taking game one, 13-8, over Michigan State.
“We did a great job in the fourth inning of clutching up and attacking good pitches to plate the runs we needed. It was nice to see a variety of people step-up all through the lineup,” Stanton said.
Saturday’s game was pushed back a day due to weather, setting up a Sunday doubleheader.
In tandem with its hot hitting, IU rode its pitching staff to victories in games two and three.
In her start on the mound, junior Emily Goodin tossed a six-strikeout, three-hit complete game. The offense supplied Goodin with all the runs she needed, collecting 10 hits en route to a 6-3 victory and locking up the series victory.
Looking for the series sweep, IU sent out its senior ace Tara Trainer to face Michigan State’s lineup. Trainer mowed down the Spartans, racking up 10 strikeouts, giving up just three hits and adding another win to her NCAA-leading 19 victories.
The Hoosier lineup also did its part once again, putting up 15 runs and cruising to its first conference sweep of the season.
On the weekend, Lambert, Galovich and sophomore Maddie Westmoreland all had career-best games, combining for 18 hits and 12 runs batted in.
“We set the tone early and often, continued to extend leads, and it gives our pitchers a chance to settle in,” Stanton said. “I thought our team did a really good job this weekend getting in hitter counts and attacking quality pitches. I’m really proud of our group.”
Following the sweep, IU improves to 28-10 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, next weekend to take on Michigan.
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