Indiana softball wrapped up play in the Bluegrass Challenge on Sunday evening, earning a 3-1 record for the weekend and improving its overall season record to 12-5.
The Hoosiers started play Friday, winning both games for a strong start to the weekend. Indiana won its first game against Central Michigan University in dramatic fashion with a walkoff RBI single from senior infielder Grayson Radcliffe. The back-and-forth game saw Indiana down by two runs on its final out in the bottom of the seventh, but heroics from junior utility player Cora Bassett tied the game and allowed Radcliffe to walk it off, sealing Indiana’s 6-5 win..
Indiana’s second contest Friday against Ohio University resulted in a 7-5 Indiana win. The team staved off a late comeback push when Ohio put up four runs in the seventh inning. Indiana coach Shonda Stanton said she was proud of the team’s fight on the first day of the Bluegrass Challenge.
“We got better in those early games and showed we were ready to fight against adversity,” Stanton said. “We stepped up to the challenge and showed we can fight.”
Freshman pitcher/infielder Heather Johnson earned both wins in Indiana’s first two outings. She pitched a total of 6.2 innings with six strikeouts, one walk and only one run allowed.
Indiana’s first contest Sunday afternoon against Eastern Kentucky University was another nail-biter. Indiana held on to win 7-6, with freshman pitcher/infielder Brianna Copeland earning the win. Johnson proved to be crucial yet again, earning her third save of the season.
The final contest of the weekend was a rematch with the University of Louisville, who beat Indiana 9-5 in Indiana’s season opener.
The Hoosiers got off to a hot start and built a 5-0 lead through two innings, but they failed to produce anything further. They could not put up any more runs to extend their lead, and the Cardinals broke the game open.
Louisville put up three runs in the fourth inning to cut Indiana’s lead to two, and it followed up with an explosive seven-run fifth inning. A grand slam from senior designated player Taylor Roby made the score 10-5. The Cardinals added six more runs in the sixth to win the game 16-5.
“We simply played that last game scared, and we need to realize the greatness they have in them and tap into it,” Stanton said of the loss to Louisville. “We have to look back on where we can be better. We have to learn and reset.”
Indiana will now travel to the Hall of Fame Classic in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on March 18-20 for its next series of games. Indiana will have five matchups, including a game against No. 1 Oklahoma.
Stanton said it will be important not to dwell on this past weekend’s mistakes, especially the loss to Louisville.
“Mindset multiplies, (and) we can’t think about things not going our way but instead visualize how to improve,” Stanton said. “We’re excited for more competition and to get battle tested in Oklahoma City.”