In one of the crazier games at Andy Mohr Field, Indiana softball made history with a 17-9 victory over Ohio State in a game that took two days to complete.
No. 24 Indiana broke the program record with its 19th straight victory in its historic 50th season of existence.
“Nineteen straight wins. I don't care if you're playing Little League or you're in the pros, that's pretty darn tough to do,” head coach Shonda Stanton said postgame. “Especially against an opponent like Ohio State who's coming off beating Michigan in a series for the first time in 33 years.”
For the third straight game, Indiana trailed by multiple runs. Team 50 went down 4-0 after the Buckeyes plated three runs in the top of the third inning. Sophomores Melina Wilkison and Kami Korokrax hit back-to-back home runs in the frame off sophomore Brianna Copeland to give the Buckeyes a comfortable lead.
But, in the bottom half, Indiana responded with seven of its own runs in an inning that took nearly 18 hours to complete. Sophomore outfielder Taylor Minnick hit an RBI double and sophomore utility player Sarah Stone crushed a three-run home run to left center field to tie the game.
Later, sophomore outfielder Kinsey Mitchell hit an RBI triple to give Team 50 a 5-4 lead before the game was suspended. Lightning was detected within 10 miles, and the game would be abandoned until 2 p.m. Saturday.
When the game resumed, both teams switched uniforms, but the Hoosiers picked up right where they left off, adding another two runs in the third as the windy conditions played a major influence on the game. With two outs, senior utility player Cora Bassett hit a pop-up to shallow left field, but a gust of wind allowed the ball to drop and score a Mitchell and junior shortstop Brooke Benson. The first pitch on Saturday was ball four to Benson as her plate appearance was split between two days.
Stanton said she showed the team the movie “Rocky” early Saturday morning to depict how Ohio State, just like Purdue in both games Wednesday, came out with the first punch.
“They saw this was gonna be a fight,” Stanton said, although she also admitted that many of her players had never seen the movie before.
The teams traded blows in the fourth, as the offensive outburst continued. Ohio State plated four in the top of the fourth to take a brief 8-7 lead before Team 50 answered with a trio of runs in the bottom half. A pair of doubles from Stone and Mitchell put Indiana back on top in the see-saw affair.
The Hoosiers scored another four in the fifth and three in the sixth to end it early as they run-ruled the Buckeyes. Copeland had the game ending groundout to score freshman infielder Taryn Kern to make history.
Stone and Mitchell combined for seven RBIs and Minnick went 3-for-3 at the plate to pace Indiana. All nine starters had hits in the game for Indiana. On the mound, Copeland, freshman Sophie Kleiman and sophomore Heather Johnson combined to record the 18 necessary outs, with Johnson picking up her eighth win of the season.
“There's always some type of pressure but I think to me and to the team pressure is a privilege,” Mitchell said afterwards. “And we love to have that kind of pressure and to know that we have the tools in our toolbox to do it.”
The win streak breaks the record set by the 1983 Hoosier squad that went to the Women’s College World Series and lost to eventual runner-up California State University, Fullerton.
“Enjoy it for an hour,” Stanton said. She emphasized that she loves celebrating milestones like this, hence why there was confetti popped in the clubhouse after the game, but winning the series is just as important.
Indiana has the chance to do that by winning at least one of the two games tomorrow in the doubleheader, which begins at noon.
Follow reporters Dalton James (.@djames1824) and Austin Platt (.@AustinPlatter) for updates throughout the Indiana softball season.