Indiana softball went 4-1 this weekend at the Hall of Fame Classic, and its pitching played a crucial role in the team’s success. The Hoosiers gave up only nine runs in their four victories.
Let’s get the outlier out of the way, a 15-1 outing against No. 1 University of Oklahoma on Friday. The Sooners have an elite offense with talented and experienced players, while the youthful Hoosiers pitching staff is still adjusting to the college level. The top-ranked team in the country provided a great challenge.
The Hoosiers’ weekend opener against the University of Houston resulted in a 8-5 win, in which freshman pitcher and infielder Heather Johnson threw 4.1 innings. In that span, Johnson gave up seven hits and five runs with three strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Macy Montgomery closed the game out, pitching the remaining 2.2 innings without giving up a single hit or run while striking out four Houston batters.
Indiana’s pitching staff earned a gritty shutout win in the team’s first Saturday game against Sam Houston State University. Montgomery did most of the work on the mound, allowing just two hits, three walks and striking out three batters in 6.1 innings. Johnson earned the save by pitching for the last two outs, striking out one batter and giving up one hit.
The back-end of Saturday’s doubleheader gave the Hoosiers a taste of conference play, as they came out on top 9-5 over Big Ten foe Iowa. Johnson pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and four runs while striking out three batters. The Hoosiers’ bats came through down the stretch for a late rally in the top of the seventh to earn the comeback victory.
Sunday morning slated Indiana against the University of San Diego for the final game of the tournament, and Johnson went back to work. She pitched another complete game for the shutout, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out six batters. It was Johnson’s third complete game of the season and her second in a two-day span.
The Hoosiers’ performances against Sam Houston State and San Diego earned them their fourth and fifth shutouts of the season. The trio of Johnson, Montgomery, and freshman pitcher and infielder Brianna Copeland has started to emerge as the dominant pitchers for Indiana.
Following the weekend results, Montgomery leads Indiana with a 6-2 record and earned runs average, ERA, of 3.45 in 48.2 innings pitched. She has also earned one save.
Johnson now stands with a 5-1 record and an ERA of 4.46 while earning four saves. Johnson has the heaviest workload of all Indiana pitchers thus far with 53.1 innings pitched.
Copeland made just one appearance on the mound this weekend, against Oklahoma. Her season totals include a 4-3 record and an ERA of 5.03 in 32 innings pitched.
As Indiana heads into conference play next weekend, the continually improving pitching may be the team’s biggest recipe for success. The 16-6 Hoosiers will play Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio on March 25-27.