IU softball will be in North Carolina for the second straight weekend. This time, the team will be in Raleigh for the Fairfield Crabtree Invitational.
IU is one of four teams at the invitational, competing against Bucknell University, Saint Joseph’s University and host North Carolina State University.
IU will start the weekend at 10 a.m. Friday against Saint Joseph’s, with a game against Bucknell immediately after.
Saturday will be a doubleheader as well, starting against Bucknell and finishing against North Carolina State. The final game of the tournament Sunday is the second against Saint Joseph’s.
IU head coach Shonda Stanton said she wants to see the team continue to improve this weekend. After losing two games by one run last weekend, Stanton said the team needs to be better in the big moments.
“That’s what it’s about,” Stanton said. “Are we doing the little things that it takes in game to win ball games?”
One of the keys to the weekend for the Hoosiers will be keeping the defense clean. IU reduced its errors total from 13 in the Black and Gold Tournament to six in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. IU head coach Shonda Stanton said she was glad to see the improvement, but IU still needs to reduce errors this weekend.
Sophomore Hannah Davis said the team has received extra defensive reps to decrease errors.
“We’ve been doing a lot more communication drills,” Davis said. “We’ve been more side-to-side work and individually working on the things we’ve been struggling with.”
Stanton said she told her team to stick to the fundamentals on defense and not think about the play too much.
“It’s just that mindset that you want to be the one to make the play,” Stanton said. “You have to make the routine plays, and you have to make the difficult plays look easy.”
North Carolina State had a solid weekend in its Big Ten/ACC Challenge, going 3-1 against Ohio State and Illinois.
IU will likely see Bucknell’s senior pitcher Raeanne Geffert after a record weekend when she became the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts, innings pitched and wins. Geffert is second in the country in strikeouts this season with 66 in seven appearances.
“She’s a good pitcher, but it’s like any other pitcher.” Stanton said. “It’s having a plan and executing a plan.”
The Hoosiers have little history against any of the teams in the tournament. IU played North Carolina once in 2009. The team saw Saint Joseph’s for the first time last season, and it has never played Bucknell. Despite this, the team is confident in its preparation.
IU has a week off after the invitational. Stanton said a positive weekend will be critical for the team to gain momentum going into two weeks of practices.
“We all just need to have a little more confidence in ourselves and play more loose and just have fun with the game,” Davis said.
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