Already on a six-game winning streak, Indiana softball continued its Tennessee road trip with a quartet of games in Memphis. All six of those wins came in the Volunteer State, a perfect 5-0 showing at the Lady Bison Classic followed by a 10-6 victory over Belmont University on Tuesday.
The Hoosiers played a pair of doubleheaders Friday and Saturday, facing Northwestern State University and the University of Memphis on both days, and came away with a 4-0 record.
Friday, March 17
Indiana’s first game against Northwestern State, which ended in a 4-2 Hoosier win, began as a pitcher’s duel. Halfway through the ballgame, the scoreboard read 1-0 in favor of Indiana. The only scoring at that point came off the bat of junior shortstop Brooke Benson, who hit an RBI double in the bottom of the second to score freshman utility player Avery Parker. Benson had two of Indiana’s nine hits in the contest.
Team 50 added three runs in the fourth with a three-run home run from freshman infielder Taryn Kern. Kern also walked twice in the game.
The Lady Demons added single runs in the fifth and seventh to cut Indiana’s lead in half, but it was not enough as the sophomore pitching combo of Brianna Copeland and Heather Johnson combined for six strikeouts. Copeland started, got 14 of the 21 outs in the game, and improved to 8-0 in the circle.
Indiana’s second game was neither as long nor as close as the first , as the team dominated Memphis 16-2 in five innings.
Four runs in the first, six in the fourth and five in the fifth were more than enough to propel the visiting team to a win. Kern again led the way with three hits in as many at-bats, falling just a triple shy of the cycle. Kern added four RBIs in game two and totaled seven runs batted in on the day.
Senior utility player Cora Bassett also had three hits, all singles, and scored a team-high four runs. As a team, the Hoosiers recorded the fourth-highest hit total in a single game in program history with 16 and also stole five bases to reach 60 on the season. The 16 runs scored are the second most this season, one behind the season high achieved in the UNCG Invitational.
In the circle, Johnson and freshman Sophie Kleiman pitched with minimal pressure, with Johnson pitching the first three innings to even her record at 6-6.
Saturday, March 18
The Hoosiers’ bats picked up from where they left off, scoring the first ten runs versus the Lady Demons en route to an 11-6 triumph. Six of them came in the top of the third inning.
In that third inning, five different Hoosiers had run-scoring singles, including a base knock from senior outfielder Abby Meeks to plate two teammates, Parker and sophomore utility player Sarah Stone. Parker later had a two-run double in the fifth inning, and she and Meeks ended the game with three runs batted in apiece.
Kern continued her hot streak with a pair of solo home runs in the game, one in the first and another in the seventh. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Week and Co-Freshman of the Week finished the weekend with seven hits, four of them leaving the ballpark, nine runs, 10 RBIs and an .875 batting average. Kern leads the team with nine home runs, 32 runs batted in and 17 walks on the season.
Copeland pitched four scoreless frames to remain perfect on the season, as she improved to 9-0 in the circle.
Northwestern State scored three in the fifth and three in the seventh to avoid getting run-ruled, but its attempt to come back fell short as Johnson got the final outs, the third time she pitched in as many games.
In the final game, Indiana took care of business against Memphis, winning 6-1 to record its 12th straight victory. Junior Macy Montgomery pitched a complete game, her first of 2023, giving up just one run in the last frame while striking out a season-high seven batters. Montgomery did not issue a walk for the first time this season and improved to 4-3.
At the plate, Copeland got things started for the Hoosiers with a solo homer in the second. Sophomore outfielder Taylor Minnick was the star of the show, smacking a pair of RBI doubles to center field.
Indiana’s current winning streak of a dozen is the longest since 2019, when the Hoosiers started the season 14-0.
Indiana returns to Andy Mohr Field next weekend, this time to open up Big Ten play. The Hoosiers will host No. 22 Maryland for a three-game set beginning March 24.