IU softball played its best offense at the end of the weekend as they went 1-3 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Durham, North Carolina, this weekend.
After losing its first three games Friday and Saturday, IU was down three runs in the fifth against Syracuse University and faced a possible winless weekend.
Freshman Desiree Dufek then hit a two-run home run to bring IU within one run. IU loaded the bases right after, and junior Taylor Lambert brought in the tying run with a sacrifice fly. In the top of the seventh, sophomore Hannah Davis hit a solo go-ahead home run, and IU won 4-3.
“We clutched up late in the game to be able to tie the game and get the go-ahead run,” IU head coach Shonda Stanton said.
Dufek has been one of the best players for the Hoosiers so far this season. She leads the team with six runs batted in and two home runs.
“She’s really settled in there, and we couldn’t be more proud of what we’re seeing,” Stanton said. “She’s had some big moments.”
The rest of the weekend lacked positives for IU.
Junior Grayson Radcliffe led off the first game against Duke on Friday with a solo home run. After that, it seemed IU couldn’t get any offense going.
Duke responded with two runs off an infield error in the bottom of the first. Senior Emily Goodin and Duke junior Peyton St. George remained locked in a pitchers’ duel the rest of the game. IU only had six hits after the first and Duke failed to record any. Neither team scored again, and IU lost 2-1.
“We’ve not been good enough in a moment where all you have to do is do your job,” Stanton said. “If a groundball’s hit to you, you need to make the play.”
Goodin lost again in a pitchers’ duel Saturday morning against Syracuse. The Hoosiers and Orange were tied at one after seven before Syracuse added two in the eighth. IU scored one on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth but couldn’t come back, losing 3-2.
Goodin pitched all eight innings of the second game and wasn’t available for the second game of the doubleheader against Duke.
Without her, IU struggled to secure outs in a 16-2 loss in five innings.
Freshman Kate Rehberg started for IU but was pulled before recording an out. Redshirt senior Josie Wood allowed six earned runs over an inning and a third in relief. Sophomore Taylor Askland provided two and two-thirds innings of relief from Wood, while only allowing three earned runs.
Rehberg reentered the game, allowing seven total runs on two hits and five walks.
Stanton said the coaches knew they would struggle when Goodin isn’t available. After sophomore Natalie Foor was injured before the season, Stanton said the pitching staff would be thin.
“That changed the landscape for us,” Stanton said. “It’s going to take some time for those three behind Goodin to get there.”
Despite struggling for most of the weekend, Stanton said she thinks the 3-6 Hoosiers are figuring out how to win. She said once they put all the small things together, they’ll be able to celebrate many more victories.
“For our team to be able to stay the course and pull this out shows me that there’s enough fight in them,” Stanton said. “There’s enough care in them to pull it together by Big Ten play.”
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