Indiana softball earned a weekend sweep over Rutgers in dramatic fashion. The Hoosiers overcame deficits in the fifth, fifth and fourth innings in each respective game.
In Friday’s series opener, Indiana got out to an early 2-0 lead after scoring in the second and third innings then quickly lost the lead, allowing Rutgers to score three runs in the fourth inning and one run in the fifth inning to take a 4-2 lead.
The Hoosiers would not quit. After junior utility player Cora Bassett and freshman outfielder Taylor Minnick both walked, Indiana’s seniors stepped up to the occasion.
Senior utility player Brittany Ford singled to drive home Bassett and cut the deficit to one. Then, senior infielder Grayson Radcliffe, who had not played since March 19 due to injury, hit a two-run RBI double to take a 5-4 lead.
Freshman infielder Brianna Copeland added an RBI single in the sixth inning and freshman pitcher Heather Johnson shut down Rutgers’ bats in the circle to complete the comeback for the 6-4 win.
Saturday’s game was in primetime on the Big Ten Network and it didn’t disappoint. Indiana was first on the board once again after Ford hit an RBI double in the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
However, Rutgers scored two runs in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead and kept the lead until the fifth inning. The Scarlet Knights had runners on second and third base in the top of the fifth inning, threatening to create an larger lead and break the game open. Sophomore pitcher Macy Montgomery wanted no part of it, and proceeded to strike out sophomore outfielder Leilani Chavez to get out of the jam.
The Hoosiers quickly reached two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the team thrived even when backed into a corner. Minnick hit an RBI double, Copeland hit a two-run triple and Radcliffe reached base on an error to change a one-run deficit to a three-run Indiana lead.
Rutgers scored two runs in the sixth inning to cut Indiana’s lead to 5-4, and in the seventh inning Rutgers had runners on second and third base with one out. A popout had Rutgers down to its final chance, and Radcliffe made a big-time play to stop a ground ball and connect with Copeland at first base for the final out, securing the 5-4 win.
“I love the fight of this team,” Copeland said after Saturday’s win. “No matter what the score is, we’ll try our hardest to come back, and most of the time we get it done.”
Indiana’s series finale saw the team fight back from a deficit once again. The Hoosiers once again scored the first run of the game, but trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the third inning. Bassett hit her 11th home run of the season in the third inning to cut the deficit to one, and the Hoosiers offense exploded to score six runs in the fourth inning to take a 8-3 lead.
Rutgers fought back and scored three runs in the sixth inning to make it 8-6, but Indiana scored three runs of its own in the sixth inning.
The final score of 11-6 earned Indiana the sweep and the three weekend wins improved Indiana’s record to 22-10 and 5-4 in Big Ten play.
“Any time you can get a sweep against a Big Ten opponent makes a great weekend,” Indiana head coach Shonda Stanton said. “I can’t be any more proud of our group, we continue to show resilience.”