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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports softball

Indiana softball sweeps Michigan to end long losing streak


Indiana softball traveled up to Ann Arbor this weekend with the opportunity to beat Michigan and end a drought spanning half a century of losing. It had been five years since Indiana had come out on top in a game against the Michigan Wolverines and 29 years since they took a series. 

The Hoosiers snapped both those streaks with a sweep over the Wolverines to attain sole possession of second place in the Big Ten standings. It was the second straight road series win for Indiana after also sweeping Rutgers on April 21-23 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Indiana won both games on Saturday 4-1 and 15-1 in six innings after rain forced a postponement of Friday’s game. Indiana finished off its fifth sweep over a conference opponent on Sunday with a 6-5 victory. 

With the wins and other losses by Ohio State, the Hoosiers clinched a bye to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament as a top-four team in the Big Ten. 

Saturday, April 29 

Game one was a pitchers’ duel between two sophomores as Indiana’s Brianna Copeland and Michigan’s Lauren Derkowski went toe-to-toe in the series opener. 

Copeland ended up winning the battle as Indiana led for the entire game despite the low scores. Sophomore first baseman utility player Sarah Stone and Copeland hit back-to-back RBI doubles to give Indiana a quick 2-0 lead. 

There would be no more scoring until the top half of the fifth when Team 50 got an insurance run courtesy of freshman infielder Taryn Kern, who pulled a single through the right side of the infield to score redshirt junior utility player Cora Bassett. Bassett had a nice day, going 3-for-4 with a triple and a pair of singles. 

Both teams scored single runs in the seventh as Michigan prevented Copeland from recording a shutout, but the sophomore still got all 21 outs for her fifth complete game of the season, extending the team lead. Copeland gave up seven hits in as many innings, but six strikeouts helped prevent the Wolverines from doing more damage and jeopardizing the Hoosiers from taking game one of the three-game set. 

Copeland brought her record inside the circle to 17-2 and lowered her season ERA to 3.07. 

The second game was much more comfortable than the second, as Team 50 clobbered Michigan 15-1, scoring 15 unanswered runs to win via run rule. A seven-run sixth inning allowed Indiana to reach the minimum of an eight-run lead after five innings to end the game prematurely. 

The Hoosiers scored in every inning except the first with a total of 13 hits, six of them being extra-base hits. 

Freshman infielder Taryn Kern had not one but two home runs, both two-run shots, her 20th and 21st of the season to extend her program home run record, and now sits three home runs shy of the Big Ten single-season record, held by Illinois’ Angelena Mexicano in 2008. 

Kern wasn’t the only one to go deep in game two, as Copeland hit a towering home run to left, her 10th of the season, in the sixth inning to extend the lead at that point to 12-1. 

Sophomore pitcher Heather Johnson starred on the mound, pitching her third complete game of the season, allowing just three hits while striking out a pair of Wolverines. The run she gave up was unearned in the bottom of the first after a Copeland error at third base allowed the inning to continue with two outs. Johnson picked up lucky win number 13 to improve to 13-6 with a 3.50 ERA. 

Sunday, April 30 

Indiana continued to display its power in the 6-5 series finale win. The Hoosiers slugged three more home runs in the game, beginning with Bassett, as she hit her third leadoff round-tripper this season and fifth overall. 

Stone added an RBI double to score Kern later in the inning, giving Team 50 a two-run lead before junior Macy Montgomery even threw a pitch. 

Montgomery’s start only lasted one inning as the Wolverines got a run back but stranded a pair of baserunners, as the Hoosiers had a 2-1 lead after one inning. 

Indiana head coach Shonda Stanton said during the game via a live interview that Michigan had “timed up” Montgomery, which prompted the pitching change. Montgomery handed the ball to Copeland, who would pitch the next 5.2 innings and earn her 18th win of the season and second of the series. 

Offensively, junior infielder Brooke Benson and sophomore outfielder Taylor Minnick each hit home runs to center field in the second and third innings, respectively. It was Benson’s third home run of the season, a two-run blast, and Minnick’s solo shot was her tenth. 

The Wolverines scored a pair of runs courtesy of two singles in the third, responding to Minnick’s long ball and cutting Indiana’s four-run lead in half. 

Sophomore outfielder Kinsey Mitchell added an insurance run with a base hit up the middle in the sixth, as Indiana was ahead 6-3 with three outs to go. 

The bottom of the seventh would turn out to be nerve-wracking, as Michigan nearly tied the game. An RBI single cut the Wolverine deficit down to one, but Johnson got the final out with the tying run in scoring position, as Indiana nailed down its 37th win, the most in Stanton’s tenure with Indiana. 

Team 50 sits at 37-15 overall and 15-5 in conference play. 

Indiana has a full week off before Michigan State comes to Andy Mohr Field for the final home series. The Hoosiers have a slim chance to earn a share of the Big Ten regular-season title against the Spartans. Indiana has to win all three games against Michigan State and Northwestern has to get swept by Rutgers. The first pitch on Friday is set for 6 p.m. 

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