After sweeping Rutgers on April 23, Indiana softball traveled to Ann Arbor over the weekend to face off against Michigan. Just as they did against the Scarlet Knights, the Hoosiers swept the Wolverines, winning their first series against Michigan in 29 years.
After being swept by Nebraska on April 15, Team 50 has won six games in a row. With the pair of sweeps against Rutgers and Michigan, Indiana has totaled five sweeps of Big Ten opponents this season.
The first game of the three-game series was postponed on Friday due to rain, setting up a Saturday doubleheader that saw two drastically different games.
In game one of the series, Indiana defeated Michigan by a score of 4-1 after stellar performances from senior utility player Cora Bassett and freshman second baseman Taryn Kern. Bassett and Kern combined to go five for seven in the ballgame, scoring three of the Hoosiers’ four runs.
Sophomore pitcher Brianna Copeland picked up her 17th win of the season in the first leg of the doubleheader, giving up one run on seven hits.
Unlike Saturday’s first game, the second leg of the doubleheader was a blowout 15-1 Indiana victory. Although Michigan struck first with an RBI double in the first inning, the Hoosiers scored their 15 unanswered as eight of the nine starters each had a hit in the ballgame.
Kern, last week’s Big Ten Freshman of the Week, hit her 20th and 21st home runs of the season, inching closer to the Big Ten single-season record of 24 set in 2008 Illinois’ Angelena Mexicano.
Sophomore pitcher Heather Johnson shut the Wolverines down in the second game of the twin bill, giving up one unearned run on just three hits in 67 total pitches.
Sunday’s series finale saw Indiana win by a score of 6-5 as Michigan kept it close until the end. Being down three runs entering the seventh, the Wolverines cut their deficit to just one run and had the game-winning run in scoring position but were ultimately unable to capitalize.
The Hoosiers powered ahead behind junior shortstop Brooke Benson’s two-run home run in the second inning. Sophomore outfielder Taylor Minnick’s also added her 10th home run of the season in the third frame.
Copeland picked up her 18th win of the season, giving up three earned runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings in the circle.
After three victories over the weekend, Team 50 now stands at 37-15 overall and 15-5 in conference play before its final Big Ten regular season series against Michigan State beginning May 5. Although the Hoosiers currently sit in second place in the Big Ten standings, they must sweep the Spartans this weekend and Northwestern would need to be swept by Rutgers – a team Indiana swept – for Indiana to clinch a share of the Big Ten title.
The Hoosiers have locked up a bye in the Big Ten Tournament as they will begin the quest for a championship on May 11 at Illinois’ softball complex. The Hoosiers and the Spartans will end the last weekend of the regular season with a three-game series beginning Friday as Indiana is three victories away from totaling 40 wins in the regular season for the first time since 1994.