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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

sports softball

Indiana softball takes down No. 15 Oregon, finishes NFCA Leadoff Classic at 4-1

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Indiana softball traveled down to Clearwater, Florida, for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic to start Team 51’s season. The Hoosiers went 4-1 with one loss due to a tight battle against No. 5 Clemson University.  

Team 51 started the season facing No. 15 University of Oregon on Feb. 8. The Hoosiers came out on fire, scoring within two at-bats. Redshirt senior utility player Cora Bassett led off with a single before junior pitcher and utility player Brianna Copeland tripled to drive Bassett in to score. Sophomore catcher Avery Parker then added a single down the left field line to take a 2-0 lead after the top of the first inning.  

But it was Copeland who shined — hitting a home run past left-center field to score three and give the Hoosiers a commanding 5-1 lead. Junior outfielder Taylor Minnick had an RBI single, and the Hoosiers scored a pair of runs to take a 7-3 lead after the top of the fourth.  

Oregon slowly made it a 7-5 game in the bottom of the sixth. Copeland ended it quickly in the circle, striking out three straight batters to seal the win. Copeland had six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings of work in the statement victory to open the season. 

Freshman utility players Alex Cooper and Aly VanBrandt made their collegiate debuts in the contest as Cooper started at second base. 

The Hoosiers came out with the same energy against Clemson on Feb. 9.   

Bassett started the game with a leadoff home run to put the Hoosiers up early. It was a back-and-forth game between the two teams with almost the entirety of the game being a one-run differential.  

The Tigers got two runs in the top of the third from freshman pitcher/utility player Julia Knowler’s 2 RBI double. Junior outfielder Kinsey Mitchell hit a single to score Minnick to get the Hoosiers tied at 2 in the bottom of the fourth inning.  

Clemson then got back in front in the top of the fifth with an RBI single from redshirt senior pitcher/utility player Valerie Cagle to bring the score to 3-2. The Hoosiers ultimately ended up falling to the Tigers as last season's national player of the year Cagle shut them out. She ended the game with six strikeouts in 3 innings.  

There was a doubleheader Feb. 10, facing Army West Point first and then the University of Kansas was next.  

The Hoosiers took control of the game in the fourth inning after Army opened the game with two runs in the first inning. Junior infielder Sarah Stone quickly responded with an RBI single that scored one with Parker then drove in two to give Indiana the lead 3-2.  

Army tied the game at 3 in the top of the third, but Team 51's power took over in the fourth inning.  

The fourth inning featured freshmen infielders Tristian Thompson and Ella Carter, Minnick and Stone all driving in runners alongside VanBrandt’s run to extend the lead to 10-3.  

In the bottom of the fifth, sophomore infielder Chloe Geijer tallied an RBI, scoring Cooper to clinch the win for the Hoosiers with a final score of 11-3 in five innings.  

Later in the day was a slow-paced game against Kansas, where the first two innings ended in a score of 0-0 with both teams combining for only two hits.  

In the bottom of the third, Kansas got on the board first with an RBI single to go up 1-0. Indiana then tied it in the top of the fifth when senior infielder Brooke Benson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.  

Benson hit a late home run in the top of the seventh inning to give the Hoosiers a 2-1 advantage. Mitchell and Parker connected to prevent a game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, tagging out Kansas’ Stafford to secure the win.  

To close out the NFCA Leadoff Classic, the Hoosiers took on North Carolina Central University on Sunday morning.  

Indiana got on the board with a run in the bottom of the second inning with VanBrandt’s triple, followed by an RBI from Mitchell to bring VanBrandt home. The freshmen were out to play as Cooper then hit a triple in the same inning.  

The lead was pushed to 3-0 in the bottom of the third inning with RBIs courtesy of Minnick and Thompson. Copeland added another RBI in the bottom of the fourth to put the score up to 4-0.  

Senior pitcher Macy Montgomery closed out the game, allowing one hit in the final two innings to secure the Hoosiers a shutout win to leave the Sunshine State with four victories.  

After the statement weekend for the Hoosiers, Copeland was named to the All-Tournament Team as she went 2-1 in the circle with a 1.37 ERA and 18 strikeouts on the weekend.  

Team 51 will now head to Troy, Alabama, Friday through Sunday for the Troy Invitational, where they will face Florida A&M University, Troy University and Gardner-Webb University.  

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

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