For the second straight weekend, Indiana softball went down to Clearwater, Florida to compete in a multi-day tournament. After a successful 3-1 showing at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, Team 50 had a unique opportunity to face some of the country’s best at the ESPN Clearwater Invitational.
Team 50 was dominated by the competition, getting outscored 43-4 in the five games against five different opponents, all of whom received votes in the latest softball rankings.
Head coach Shonda Stanton said during the team’s media day that a tournament like this one will serve as a “measuring stick” for how well Indiana can compete against some of the top teams in the country.
The stats speak for themselves — Indiana was outscored by 39 runs and outhit by 31 while committing six total errors.
Indiana is a ways away from competing against the best of the best. Sure, five games in a four-day span is not easy when the schedule is stacked with three top-15 teams. But the pitching staff — composed of many newcomers — struggled to keep the basepaths empty, and the offense which exploded for 27 runs last weekend could only scrape across four.
There’s a reason why Stanton assembles a difficult schedule in February and early March year in and year out: to challenge the team early and often and see how they deal with adversity. It’s all in preparation for the Big Ten schedule, which begins in late March, when the games matter that much more.
The good news is that the team has the week off to regroup after the rough weekend before heading to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the UNCG Tournament. The Hoosiers will play five games in three days, which will gauge how well Team 50 can rebound after getting throttled this past weekend.
"If things don’t go well early, we’ve got to be okay with that and get better,” Stanton said during the preseason media day on February 2.
We will see just how much better Team 50 gets over the course of the season beginning next weekend.