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Indiana softball goes 3-2, falls to No. 17 Arizona twice in Hillenbrand Invitational

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Indiana softball headed out to the desert to participate in the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Arizona, for another five-game set Feb. 23-25. The Hoosiers won against Central Michigan University, Drake University and Marshall University, but lost twice to the invitational’s host, No. 17 University of Arizona.  

Sophomore pitcher Sophie Kleiman started the doubleheader Feb. 23 with her first career no-hitter against Central Michigan, never allowing the Chippewas offense to record a hit.  

Indiana got going in the bottom of the second inning as four Hoosiers recorded RBIs to put them in front 5-0. The offense went quiet until the bottom of the fifth as Indiana put up three more runs, including redshirt senior utility player Cora Bassett’s hard-hit single that scored senior shortstop Brooke Benson to end the game at 8-0.  

Next in line was No. 17 Arizona, where the Hoosiers got out to an early lead. Freshman utility player Aly VanBrandt singled in the top of the first to score sophomore outfielder Cassidy Kettleman and put the Hoosiers on the board 1-0.  

The Wildcats were not far behind as senior infielder Carlie Scupin hit a home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1-1.  

Junior infielder Sarah Stone homered in the fourth to give Indiana the lead back at 3-1. However, once again, Arizona had a response in the fourth by adding on four runs and then another run in the sixth inning.  

The Hoosiers could not find a response after the fourth inning, which ultimately ended in them falling 6-3 with the Wildcats taking the win to end the first day of the tournament.  

Indiana played another doubleheader Feb. 24, leading off against Drake. The Hoosiers had a slow start, trailing Drake 1-0 after two innings. That was until Benson hit a home run in the bottom of the third, then two batters later, when junior pitcher/utility player Brianna Copeland hit a home run to give Indiana a 2-1 lead.  

In the fourth inning, sophomore catcher and utility player Avery Parker hit a double to score Stone to extend the lead to 3-1. The fifth inning featured freshman pitcher and utility player Alex Cooper hitting the Hoosiers’ third homer of the day with her first collegiate home run. Later in that inning, junior outfielder Taylor Minnick hit an RBI single to end the inning with a 5-1 lead.  

In the bottom of the sixth, Parker stole second base on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 6-1. Drake got on the board one last time in the seventh inning but couldn’t catch up as Team 51 won 6-2 over the Bulldogs.  

The Hoosiers and Wildcats met again later that night in a thrilling, yet lengthy game.  

Both teams came out slow in the first inning until Cooper hit a sacrifice fly to score VanBrandt in the second to put the Hoosiers up early, 1-0, until Arizona evened the score at 1. 

Bassett put a spark in the Hoosiers in the third, launching a home run to left field to put them ahead 2-1. Arizona followed with two more runs in the third, but Copeland responded with her second home run of the day in the fifth inning to make the score 3-3. 

Sophomore infielder Chloe Geijer hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh to put the Hoosiers up 4-3. The Wildcats then tied the game at 4 to end the seventh inning and send the game into extra innings.  

Each team scored a run in the eighth inning to tie the game at 5 and continue to nine innings. Neither team scored in the ninth inning, but the teams traded off runs in both the 10th and 11th innings, with Copeland and junior outfielder Kinsey Mitchell recording RBIs in those innings.  

Arizona was threatening in the bottom of the 12th inning, but Cooper caught a line drive at third base and got to the bag before the runner could get back for the unassisted double play to keep the Hoosiers alive. Indiana failed to score in the 13th, working their way out of a bases loaded jam to keep the score at 7-7.  

With two runners on in the top of the 14th inning, Cooper singled to score two runners for Indiana to take a 9-7 lead. However, in the bottom of the 14th, Arizona had bases loaded and scored three consecutive runs, defeating Indiana 10-9.  

To close out the weekend, Team 51 faced Marshall on Sunday afternoon. Indiana opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center from Minnick in the top of the first to score Bassett and go up 1-0.  

Benson hit an inside-the-park home run in the top of the second to extend the lead to 2-0. Marshall added three runs in the bottom of the second to snag a 3-2 lead.  

In the fourth inning, the Hoosiers had a seven-run explosion. Cooper hit a three-run home run, Bassett hit an RBI double, Minnick hit an RBI single and Cooper walked with the bases-loaded.  

Marshall responded in the next inning to make it 9-4 going into the fifth inning. The Hoosiers recorded two more runs, and then later came the Thundering Herd, recording two runs in the sixth. The Hoosiers’ defense ultimately closed the game in the bottom of the seventh. Benson, at shortstop, made the clutch play with two runners on base to end the game and secure the win.  

After the five-game weekend, the Hoosiers improved to 11-4 on the season, with three of those losses coming against ranked opponents.  

The Hoosiers will host the Hoosier Classic, taking on Bowling Green State University and Valparaiso University from Friday to Sunday. They will also host Western Kentucky University on March 5 at Andy Mohr Field in Bloomington.  

Follow reporters Dalton James (@DaltonMJames) and Sam Elster (@samelster1) for updates throughout the Indiana softball season.

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