Indiana softball spent its second consecutive weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Clearwater Invitational, where over a five-game span the Hoosiers faced off against three SEC opponents. Indiana lost all five games, four of which came by wide margins, to fall to 3-6 overall.
A long weekend that consisted of four AP Top 25 opponents, the Hoosiers began their quest against then-No. 22 Louisiana on Thursday afternoon. The Ragin’ Cajuns were able to strike early by taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Although adding a run in the bottom of the seventh, the Indiana squad was unable to get its offense going by tallying only five hits to being struck out seven times. Indiana would drop the first game 4-1; the only game of the weekend that was within seven runs.
Friday was the beginning of the SEC stretch for the Hoosiers as they faced off against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs took an early 3-0 lead in the second inning, however, Indiana showed flashes of a response as Cora Bassett drove an RBI single for Aaliyah Andrews to head home in the top of the third.
With some signs of promise on both sides of the ball, the Hoosiers were looking to build on defense in the bottom of the fourth. Mississippi State had plans of their own by blowing the game completely out of the water with a nine-run inning.
Against a Bulldog team that was a projected bottom of the barrel in the SEC, the Hoosiers were in need of a complete turnaround as they fell 12-2 in five innings and still had their toughest competition ahead of them.
No. 4 Arkansas was the first of Saturday’s doubleheader for Indiana as the weekend woes continued. This game was shaping to be a defensive battle with the Razorbacks leading 1-0 through three innings.
The game quickly opened up as Arkansas tallied three runs in both the fourth and fifth inning to take a 7-0 lead which would be the final after seven. The Hoosiers' struggles continued at the plate as they struck out 12 times while only four batters earned a hit.
On Saturday evening the Hoosiers were set to face No. 12 Alabama as similar results followed. For the second time in four games the contest ended early as IU trailed by eight or more after five innings.
The Crimson Tide took an early 4-0 lead. Indiana came knocking back with bases loaded in the bottom of the third. Brianna Copeland nailed a line drive that appeared to send at least one Hoosier home, but Alabama’s right fielder made an impressive play to keep the Hoosiers off the board.
That would be the last signs of offense on Saturday for Indiana as IU fell to Alabama 10-0 with only one game remaining against No. 15 Arizona.
This game would showcase some of the emotional appeal of facing four ranked opponents and being shut out twice would do.
The Hoosiers never saw themselves in this game, trailing 9-0 through the third inning, in which the Wildcats scored seven. Two of the runs came at the cost of an Indiana error. The Hoosiers would score a late run but once again saw a game end in five innings as they lost 10-1.
Indiana fell to 3-6 after a brutal weekend with tough opponents, but the season is very young. There should be a new life as the Hoosiers head to Greensboro, North Carolina next weekend for the UNCG Invitational.
The competition appears less strenuous for Team 50 that is in need to find some consistency on either side of the ball so far this season.