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The Indiana Daily Student

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‘We got to turn the page’: Indiana softball swept for the second consecutive weekend

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As the home plate umpire raised his right fist signaling strike three, junior outfielder Taylor Minnick tossed her bat in front of her with her head down. The Michigan Wolverines were jumping up and down on Andy Mohr Field.  

This represented exactly how the weekend went for the Hoosiers.  

Indiana softball looked to rally over the weekend in its Big Ten home-opening series against Michigan, but for the second weekend in a row, it found the contrary.  

After having a confidence boosting win against Louisville on March 26 before the weekend began, the Hoosiers still needed help finding a rhythm facing the red-hot Wolverines.  

The series began March 29 in a back-and-forth start. Sophomore catcher Avery Parker scored a run, and junior infielder Sarah Stone bombed a two-run home run to left field to give Indiana a 3-1 lead going into the third inning.  

During the third, there was plenty of scoring going around for both squads. Michigan was up 4-3 after the top of the third until Indiana answered back. Stone continued to hit the ball exceptionally well as she hit a two RBI triple from a wild hop in the outfield to go up 5-4 at the end of the third frame.  

The Wolverines gave the Hoosiers two long innings in the fourth and fifth, tallying eight runs between the innings, giving the visitors a 12-5 lead.  

Once again, Stone came in the clutch in the batter’s box with an RBI double to make it a 12-6 game.  

The Hoosiers stumbled in the circle, using four different pitchers throughout the game. At one point, even freshman utility player Alex Cooper was also thrown into the circle to attempt to stop the hurting.  

But it was the powerful force of the Wolverines’ offense and Indiana’s pitching woes that ended in a final score of 15-6.  

While the final score seems to indicate a blowout loss for the Hoosiers, the hit differential between the teams was only 15-12, with Michigan in the lead. The Hoosiers had many opportunities with players on base late in the game but could not execute to close the gap.  

“When you look at those micro-moments, and you see where maybe we clutched up, or we got the job done, eventually, you just keep stacking up, and then you put it all together. And we just didn’t put it all together today,” Indiana head coach Shonda Stanton said after the first game. “You got to have really two, three phases in the game, and I felt at times our defense failed us, and obviously our pitching wasn’t good enough today, it’ll be better tomorrow.” 

It was a special day for the program on day two of the series. The 1983 Women’s College World Series team was recognized before and after the game, which included the first pitches from members of the team and a postgame ring ceremony. 

“As a coach, you're here to win ballgames, but it’s about winning with people and investing with people. It's all about connection and care and relationships, and I think that was evident in what you see here,” Stanton said, referring to the alumni reunion.  

Michigan picked up right where it left off the day before, recording five runs through the first three innings to build a 5-0 lead.  

Minnick was the only Hoosier to get them on the board with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.  

Everything was going the Wolverines' way, as they scored two more runs in the fifth and seventh innings for a final score of 7-1. Indiana could not make anything happen on offense or stop the Wolverine offense, either.  

Once again, it was a rotation in the circle for the Hoosiers, with sophomore Sophie Kleiman, junior Brianna Copeland and Cooper making appearances.  

However, the pitching circle was smooth sailing on the Wolverine side. Erin Hoehn threw for the entire game and recorded seven strikeouts while allowing just four hits.  

The Hoosiers held their annual “Bark in the Park” game March 31. Except once again, Michigan showed no signs of slowing down, even in the third game of the series.   

It was another rough start for Indiana, and Cooper found herself back in the circle in the top of the second replacing Copeland as Michigan was already up 2-0 via a two-run home run.  

Stanton and the coaching staff tried new things in the Sunday matchup. They made significant changes to the batting order, pushing Copeland toward the back of the lineup and moving senior outfielder Aaliyah Andrews into the lineup.  

In Andrews’ second career start, she recorded an RBI double to get the Hoosiers on the scoreboard.  

The top of the third inning featured Copeland and Cooper swapping positions from pitching to third base. The two swapped four times in the inning, with Michigan scoring three runs.  

“That’ll be something fun for us to play around with throughout the season — being able to flip Bri and Alex on the field and then see when we want to use Soph and Macy to pluck those holes and go a little bit longer than the lineup,” Stanton said. 

Kleiman was thrown back into the circle in the top of the fourth, which turned into a two-run home run for Michigan. After different controversial umpire calls and wacky plays, the Wolverines won 10-1 to sweep the series.  

For the second weekend in a row, the Hoosiers were swept by their second Big Ten opponent. They are 0-6 in Big Ten play while being 23-12 overall on the season.  

Despite losing eight of their last nine games, Team 51 now heads into a midweek matchup against Purdue.  

The doubleheader will be at 5 p.m. and approximately 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Andy Mohr Field. Both games will be televised on the Big Ten Network. 

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

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