Indiana softball boasted its athleticism during the annual media day at Andy Mohr Field on Thursday ahead of the 2023 season, which begins next Friday, February 10, in Clearwater, Florida.
Head coach Shonda Stanton, senior Cora Bassett and juniors Brooke Benson, Macy Montgomery and Brianna Copeland spoke to the media, expressing their excitement for this historic season. 2023 marks the 50th season in the program’s history.
“I couldn’t be any more pleased with where we are with training,” Stanton said. “It’s a super athletic group, a lot of unknowns which is exciting and makes things super competitive in practice.”
Athleticism was a word frequently used by all the student-athletes, and Stanton echoed that as well, commenting on the impressive work the team has done on the field and in the weight room.
“Up and down our athleticism is built different,” Bassett said. “I’ve never been around such great hitters in my entire softball career.”
Bassett, a transfer from Purdue who is entering her second season with the Hoosiers, was the first to mention freshmen Avery Parker and Taryn Kern as two newcomers that have stood out.
However, Team 50 also returns a lot of the talent that finished 27-22 overall in 2022, 10-13 in the Big Ten and 10th in the conference standings.
Despite all the returning pieces, there are still a lot of positions up for grabs, Stanton said.
“Very few kids are penned in (to the lineup) when you look at a weekend,” Stanton said.
Stanton mentioned that Bassett, Benson and Kern might be the only three players who will be everyday starters.
With the flexibility of a lot of players that can play a lot of different positions, it won’t be easy for Stanton and the coaching staff to write out a lineup on a game-by-game basis.
On the pitching side, pitching by committee is something that Stanton mentioned Indiana will implement in the first few weeks. Indiana returns the top three pitchers by innings last season.
“Only having one newcomer allows to kinda settle in,” Montgomery said. “We’ve all had the experience now. … I think that’s really going to play to our advantage this year.”
Team 50 will begin its 2023 season with a pair of tournaments in Florida, the NFCA Leadoff Classic and the ESPN Clearwater Invitational, which will serve as a measuring stick for how well Indiana can compete with some of the best teams in the country.
There’s no doubt Indiana will be tested early and often in the Sunshine State, and four tournaments in as many weekends following that will also challenge the Hoosiers.
“We’re all ready to have an umpire back there and an opponent in the other dugout,” Stanton said.