The Indiana softball team enjoyed a dominant first series at home as IU went undefeated in four games this past weekend at the Hoosier Classic.
The Hoosiers faced off against the Valparaiso Crusaders and the Western Illinois Leathernecks in the first games open to the public at Andy Mohr Field in almost two years.
The first opponent for the Hoosiers on Friday was Valparaiso, which came into Bloomington with five wins and four losses and was looking to continue its upward trend after a strong 4-1 performance at the Charleston Invitational.
The Crusaders got off to a hot start as they gained a 3-1 lead after the top half of the second inning, but the Hoosier bats didn’t stay quiet for long after this initial surge.
The Hoosiers responded with a three-run bottom of the second and added another in the fourth to jump back in front 5-3. After a Valparaiso run in the top half of the fifth, Indiana busted the game wide open with four runs in the bottom half of the sixth thanks in part to a two-run blast by Brittany Ford to make it 9-4.
The Crusaders came up with a scoreless top of the seventh to solidify the Hoosiers’ first home win of the season.
It’s worth noting Cora Bassett’s performance in this contest as she reached base every time she came to the plate and also scored every time she got on base. This was just the start for her on the weekend, however.
The Hoosiers couldn’t celebrate their win over Valparaiso for too long, as they had another game on Friday against Western Illinois. The Leathernecks were hoping to start to build some momentum after just a 3-8 start to the season.
It didn’t take long for the Hoosiers to get the offense rolling as they added a pair of runs in the first two innings with RBIs from Brittany Ford and Kinsey Mitchell.
Indiana kept its foot on the gas pedal, adding three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth to all but put the game away. Once again, Bassett was right in the thick of the offensive production with an RBI in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Started the home slate with a 💥 pic.twitter.com/3dkrmy4pwg
— Indiana Softball (@IndianaSB) March 6, 2022
The Leathernecks’ comeback effort only resulted in one run in the seventh and the Hoosiers were able to go undefeated on Friday with some huge performances from the pitching staff. After only allowing four runs in the first game, Macy Montgomery tossed a gem in the second and only allowed one run in her last inning of a complete game.
Head coach Shonda Stanton complimented the performance of all the pitchers from the weekend after the series.
“The command was there,” said Stanton. “And they went the distance, I think that was the key.”
After a promising beginning to the weekend, Indiana was looking to correct the mistakes of its first two weekend series by finishing without a blemish, and the third game of the weekend started with all signs pointing towards a strong finish.
Bassett started the offense with a solo home run in the Hoosiers’ first at-bat of the game to jump out to a quick start against the Leathernecks once again.
The former Purdue Boilermaker didn’t stop there however, as she added another home run in the third inning, that one a two-run shot making it 3-0.
Western Illinois was only able to muster one run on a rare wild pitch from Brianna Copeland who otherwise was phenomenal on the day. She had the Leatherneck hitters guessing the entirety of her six innings of work and finished with five strikeouts.
Although Abby Carlin went six innings only allowing three runs for Western Illinois, the offensive production was not enough and they fell to the Hoosiers for the second straight day, 3-1.
The undoubted MVP for Indiana on the weekend, Bassett, had one of her best games as a Hoosier in the first matchup of the day. Bassett said that not overthinking things at the plate was a key to her big weekend.
“I don’t really ever think about hitting a home run when I’m at the plate. …most of the time I’m just thinking barrel, what can I do to get on for my team.”
— Indiana Softball (@IndianaSB) March 7, 2022
The last game of the weekend for Indiana was another date with the Crusaders of Valparaiso, and the Hoosiers left no doubt as to who the best team on the field was over the past two days.
The offense continued its trend of fast starts when they added two runs in the bottom of the first off of a Copeland two-RBI single.
This however was just the appetizer as the Hoosiers served the main course in the bottom of the sixth inning as they put up a six-spot on five hits to extend their lead to 8-0. They went on to add one more from a Copeland solo home run in the fourth to make it 9-0.
— Indiana Softball (@IndianaSB) March 5, 2022
The Hoosiers’ dominance in the pitching department didn’t slow down in game four either as Macy Montgomery and Kate Rehberg teamed up for a combined shutout in five innings as the game was stopped early due to the mercy rule. The Hoosiers finished out their sweep on the weekend as they clobbered the Crusaders 9-0.
One of the biggest stories from Saturday was the performance of Copeland who got it done in the batter’s box as well as the circle.
“We knew she’d be a great two-way player,” Stanton said. “…she’s pretty impressive.”
As for any team, winning at home is a priority and for IU it is no different.
“It’s huge,” Stanton said. “…to come out and play the same teams twice and get four wins, it was a great weekend.”
The Hoosiers will look to continue their winning ways this weekend as they will travel to Louisville, Kentucky to take place in the Bluegrass Challenge.
They will face Central Michigan, Ohio, Louisville, and Eastern Kentucky at Ulmer Stadium starting at 11 a.m. Friday.