Indiana softball’s struggles continued as Northwestern swept the Hoosiers in a three-game series this weekend. Indiana has now lost six consecutive games.
The series opener Friday night had little action as Northwestern controlled the game from start to finish. Wildcats senior pitcher Danielle Williams showcased why she is one of the nation’s top players, pitching a complete seven innings and allowing just one run while striking out 10 Hoosiers.
Northwestern came out swinging, scoring three runs through the first two innings. Indiana sophomore catcher Lindsey Warick responded with a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning to make it a 3-1 game.
From there, however, the Wildcats took over. Williams shut down the Hoosier batters and Northwestern scored another five runs in the fifth inning alone. Northwestern sophomore infielder Hannah Cady had two home runs in the Wildcats’ 8-1 victory.
Saturday’s game had a different flow to it, providing late night fireworks in a Northwestern comeback that necessitated extra innings.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning, but Indiana responded by scoring four runs in the bottom half of the inning. The Hoosiers scored one run in the third inning and two more in the fourth inning to extend their lead to 7-3.
However, Northwestern fought its way back as senior first baseman Nikki Cuchran hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning and freshman second baseman Grace Nieto hit a solo shot of her own to tie the game at 7-7 in the sixth inning.
Northwestern sent Williams to the mound in the sixth inning, and she shut down Indiana the same way she did the night before. The game extended to nine innings, where Northwestern piled on six runs. Indiana scored one, but it was too little, too late in a devastating 13-8 loss.
“What I’m proud of is to be down 3-0 early and to fight back and keep throwing punches,” Indiana head coach Shonda Stanton said. “We just didn’t get the clutch hit when we needed it.”
The series finale on Sunday featured Williams back on the mound for Northwestern and senior pitcher Natalie Foor’s first start of the season for Indiana.
Indiana senior designated hitter Brittany Ford hit a solo home run to give Indiana an early 1-0 lead in the second inning, and the game was tied at 3-3 after three innings.
From that point, Northwestern ran away with the game, scoring eight runs in the last three innings. Indiana loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth innings, but failed to produce any more runs. Northwestern earned the series sweep with the 11-3 victory.
“It was a tough weekend,” Stanton said. “We just couldn’t get enough outs.”
Defensive issues and missed opportunities highlighted Indiana’s downfall in the series. The Hoosiers had nine errors and 24 runners left on base throughout the three games.
Indiana is now in its worst position of the season at three games below .500 in Big Ten play and is searching for a victory. Stanton said the team continues to look forward and learn from their mistakes.
The Hoosiers will continue their homestretch Tuesday evening with a doubleheader against rival Purdue. The first game will begin at 5 p.m. and the second game will start 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.