The Hoosier softball team kicked off its 2022 season in Boca Raton, Florida this past weekend at the FAU First Pitch Classic. With five games slated for Indiana, it was a huge opportunity for the team to get off to a hot start.
Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they missed out on that quick start that every team craves to begin a season, as they went 2-2 on the weekend, and missed the chance to improve their record due to a rain out on Sunday.
While this wasn’t the result they were hoping for, the team undoubtedly left the weekend knowing much more about themselves as a team than they did prior to their opening game.
The first opponent the Hoosiers saw on Friday was the Louisville Cardinals. Coming off of a lackluster 2021 season the Cardinals came out scorching to start 2022 with three runs in the top of the first.
This didn’t go unanswered however as the Hoosiers responded in the bottom half with two runs of their own with RBIs from Sarah Stone and Lindsey Warick.
Brianna Copeland tossed a scoreless frame in the top of the second, the Hoosiers put up another run in the bottom half of the inning to even things up.
The Cardinals cracked the game wide open in the fifth with a grand slam from the James Madison transfer Hannah File.
The Hoosiers fought hard, adding two runs in the last three innings, but after Louisville added an insurance run in the sixth IU ended up dropping the season opener 9-5.
When commenting on the game head coach Shonda Stanton touched on a couple of issues that held them back, but came back to some key moments that could have changed the final outcome dramatically.
“It was just some missed opportunities,” Stanton said. “They got the big hit, we didn’t.”
Indiana didn’t stay down for too long, however, dominating the team hosting the Invitational, Florida Atlantic, 11-1.
Sophomore Macy Montgomery led the strong showing with a phenomenal pitching performance. She went four innings, only allowing two hits and one run to the Owls offense.
To go along with the exceptional pitching, Indiana’s offense showed up in a big way in game two. They racked up five total extra-base hits with three of those being home runs. After a two- run first, the Hoosiers added six more in the second and went on to score three more in the fifth.
The game ended after the conclusion of the fifth inning due to the mercy rule being applied because of the Hoosiers’ 10-run lead.
“We saw a lot of great things,” Stanton said. “Offensive production was there.”
After splitting the first two games on Friday, Indiana was looking for a sweep on Saturday to get some momentum heading into the last game on Sunday morning.
The Hoosiers played Bethune-Cookman in their first game on Saturday and ended up getting the win with a final score of 3-1.
After such a solid offensive performance the night before, the team struggled at the plate and only put up three runs in the first game of the day.
“It was one of those days where you’re just not hitting the ball well,” Stanton said.
She also commented on the role of the reserves who came up with hits in crucial moments. Aaliyah Andrews and Abby Meeks provided an insurance run in the seventh with a couple of hits back to back.
“That was awesome to see,” Stanton said.
In the final game on Saturday the Hoosiers took on Northern Illinois. The Huskies jumped out to a 3-2 lead after the first and took it to the Indiana pitchers in the second scoring eight runs off of five hits.
While the Hoosiers were able to get one run back in the bottom of the second, they were shut out for the rest of the game. Northern Illinois however added one run per inning until the fifth when the game was ended due to the mercy rule with the final score being 14-3.
“It was just a really disappointing performance,” Stanton said. “Not enough fight, not enough competitiveness, and that’s where we need to see this young group grow.”
With only one game left in the invitational, Indiana was looking to leave Boca Raton with an above .500 record, but IU’s rematch against Northern Illinois was canceled due to heavy rain.
When asked about how it felt to not be able to have a rematch against NIU due to inclement weather coach Stanton touched on how they plan to use the cancellation to their advantage.
“We’re going to watch film, and we’re going to get better,” Stanton said.
Stanton also commented on the overall scope of the weekend.
“Even though it was a disappointing weekend for us, this group had some really talented moments, micro-moments, and we can’t wait to put them all together,” Stanton said.
Indiana has a week off before its next round of games which will be a part of the Unconquered Invitational which is hosted in Tallahassee by Florida State. They will face both Hofstra and the No. 6 Seminoles on Feb. 26 and 27.