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Indiana softball returns to winning ways at UNCG Invitational

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For the first time this season, Indiana softball competed outside of Clearwater, Florida, participating in the University of North Carolina Greensboro Invitational in Greensboro, North Carolina just one week after a weekend to forget at the ESPN Clearwater Invitational

Indiana played five games against three different schools over the three days, finishing out with a 3-2 record. 

Friday, Feb. 24

Indiana was initially supposed to play twice on the opening day of the round-robin tournament, but the Hoosiers only had one game against Delaware University. 

Indiana dominated the Blue Hens, winning via run-rule 11-0 behind four home runs and a combined one-hit shutout. The four homers tied the program record for most in a single game. 

Team 50 scored four runs in the bottom of the first off of a two-run home run from sophomore utility player Sarah Stone and RBI hits from sophomore outfielder Taylor Minnick and freshman utility player Avery Parker. 

The Hoosiers added seven more runs in the bottom of the fourth, as senior utility player Cora Bassett, Minnick and senior outfielder Abby Meeks all connected for home runs. It was Meeks’ first career round-tripper. 

On the mound, the southpaw duo of sophomore Heather Johnson and junior Macy Montgomery teamed up to shut out the Blue Hens, allowing just combined one hit. Johnson pitched four of the five innings to earn her second win of the season. 

Saturday, Feb. 25  

Following more schedule changes, Indiana wound up playing Delaware again for the second time in less than 24 hours. This time, the full seven innings would be played and the game would be much tighter, although again Team 50 came away with the win, 6-4.  

Stone again got the scoring started with an RBI single in the first inning and sophomore Brianna Copeland followed it up with a run-scoring base hit of her own to give Indiana a 2-0 lead after just half an inning of play. 

Delaware took the lead in the bottom of the second with three runs off three hits, but the Hoosiers answered with three in the third and another in the fourth. Meeks continued to swing a hot bat with a two-run double to left field, and freshman infielder Taryn Kern hit her first career home run, a solo shot in the fourth. 

Delaware would attempt to claw its way back into the game, adding a run in the sixth off of an error via obstruction, but Johnson recorded five outs to pick up her second save of 2023 while giving Copeland her second win. Copeland struck out four in 3.1 innings pitched. 

Indiana suffered its first loss of the tournament against the hosts, University of North Carolina Greensboro, in its second matchupon Saturday by the score of 6-5 in a game that would turn out to be a home run derby. 

Once again, the Hoosiers scored multiple runs in the first frame. Stone and Minnick each had singles in the top of the first to continue the hot streak by the middle of the lineup. 

The Spartans would hit solo home runs in each of their first two innings at the plate to cut the Indiana lead to 3-2, and both teams scored a single run each in the third and fourth innings. Bassett hit her third home run of the season in the top of the fourth, and the Spartans countered with one of their own in the next half inning. 

After no runs were scored in the fifth and sixth innings, Indiana entered the bottom of the seventh just three outs away from starting the tournament 3-0. But, a pinch-hit walk-off two-run homer from fifth-year utility player Samantha Lagrama would win it for the Spartans and hand Indiana its seventh loss of 2023. 

Sunday, Feb. 26  

Indiana had a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday with a rematch against the Spartans, but first was a meeting with University of Connecticut. 

The Huskies shut out the Hoosiers 5-0, scoring in four of the six innings they hit in and holding Indiana to five total hits. Despite getting shut out, Team 50 had plenty of opportunities to score as they ended the game with 12 runners left on base.  

Johnson started the game for the Hoosiers, giving up two runs in three innings of work, taking the loss that would drop her record to 2-6. 

At the plate, Indiana was hit by three pitches and only had one extra-base hit, a double from Parker in the top of the second. 

Indiana ended the weekend in the same fashion as they started: an offensive explosion that led to the game being called early. 

Team 50 dominated UNCG 17-2, recorded 14 hits and scored in every inning. This time, it was Minnick who got the scoring started, clearing the fence with a three-run homer in the first, her second round-tripper of the weekend. Minnick went three-for-three in the game and finished the weekend with seven hits and 11 RBI. 

The third inning was Indiana’s best at the dish the entire weekend as they scored eight runs off just four hits. Meeks and Copeland both had bases-clearing doubles in the inning, blowing the game open. Meeks ended the tournament with three doubles and seven runs batted in. 

Freshman outfielder Elle Smith had her first two career hits in the Cream and Crimson, swiping a pair of bases and touching home plate three times to cap off a winning weekend for Team 50. Indiana won three of its five games to improve its record to 6-8 after three tournaments. 

Indiana is back in action at Andy Mohr Field next weekend for The Hoosier Classic, which will see the Hoosiers play host to Purdue-Fort Wayne University, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Wisconsin and Wisconsin Green-Bay University beginning Friday, March 3.

Follow reporters Austin Platt (@AustinPlatter) and Dalton James (@DaltonMJames) for updates throughout the softball season.
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