Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports softball

Indiana softball’s Alex Cooper launches pair of home runs, guides Hoosiers to comeback win

spsoftball041624.JPG

Shonda Stanton became Indiana softball’s ninth head coach when she arrived in Bloomington on June 10, 2017. The Hoosiers hadn’t faced off with the University of Notre Dame, a perennial NCAA Tournament team, since 2004. 

Stanton got together with Fighting Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf, and according to Stanton, the two said, “Why would we not play each other?” 

The Hoosiers hosted Notre Dame on Tuesday for the second time since the schools resumed its series, falling 8-5 in 2022. Fighting Irish pitcher Alexis Laudenslager held Indiana to just one hit through six innings as it seemed like the Hoosiers would once again fall to Notre Dame as they have the past two seasons. 

But freshman utility plater Alex Cooper delivered in the clutch, launching a walk-off grand slam in the seventh inning to secure a 5-3 victory. She also scored Indiana’s first run of the game in the third inning with a solo home run — her first at Andy Mohr Field. 

“I was just really comfortable tonight,” Cooper said postgame. “I knew that I was going to barrel a ball. I didn’t know where it was going to go but I just had some confidence, and I was ready for it.” 

Cooper entered Tuesday with a .242 batting average and just three home runs this season. With the rest of the Hoosiers’ lineup combining to go 1-for-21 at the plate against the Fighting Irish, Indiana needed someone to step up — exactly what Cooper did. 

Although two home runs and five RBIs from a freshman in the eight-hole is a rather unusual find in the box score, Stanton wasn’t surprised. 

“Alex did not look like a freshman,” Stanton said. “Just looking at her, her eyes, she just looked so composed.” 

While Cooper had yet to find much success at the plate this season, she needed to have failure and work through it to have a moment like the grand slam, according to Stanton. 

The Mooresville, Indiana, native arrived in Bloomington already a phenomenal athlete, but her performance Tuesday showed that her ability at the plate is making considerable strides just 42 games into her career. 

With the walk-off winner now in the rearview, the Hoosiers (30-12) turn their attention to a doubleheader Wednesday against Purdue (20-19). 

A season ago, Indiana traveled to West Lafayette and took both legs of the twinbill from the Boilermakers at Bittinger Stadium. Now, the Hoosiers will finally look to defeat their in-state rival after the pair of games was postponed twice. 

The two were originally slated to face off April 3, but the contests were postponed due to inclement weather and rescheduled for April 10. It too was rescheduled to Wednesday. 

While head coaches control nearly everything in their program, the fiasco around getting the doubleheader in served as a reminder to Stanton that uncontrollable circumstances can prevent that. 

“When it’s go time, our kids are going to be ready,” Stanton said. “We’ve got a good Purdue team coming in here. They’ve been playing better than they’ve played — it’s an in-state rival. We got to swing the sticks.” 

The first leg of the doubleheader is set to begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday with the second slated to start at approximately 7:30 p.m. Both games will stream on Big Ten Plus.

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

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe