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Indiana players celebrate Taryn Kern's home run in a win over Ohio State on April 2. (HN photo/Marley Reback)
Indiana players celebrate Taryn Kern's home run in a win over Ohio State on April 2. (HN photo/Marley Reback)

‘We have to stay true to our identity’: Indiana softball atop the Big Ten after series sweep against Ohio State

No. 24 Indiana is on the longest winning streak in program history, now at 21 games

Weather, records — and yes, puppies — could possibly be the three words used to describe Indiana softball’s three victories over Ohio State this past weekend as the Hoosiers are now 28-9 on the season and 8-0 in the Big Ten.

Friday evening’s game was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. but got pushed to 4 p.m. due to the tornado watch throughout Indiana. The Hoosiers trailing 4-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning.

An unusual bottom of the third inning started with a bang as Taylor Minnick hit an RBI double to put Indiana on the board. Sarah Stone followed with a bang, hitting a three-run home run as the Hoosiers were now tied at four.

Indiana would take the lead after a Kinsey Mitchell triple. However, the looming weather postponed the game to be finished on Saturday with Indiana leading 5-4.

“We can either go to bed with runs on the board…or go to bed a different way,” Indiana head coach Shanda Stanton said of being down 4-0 and the rescheduling.

Sarah Stone (right) and teammates celebrate with Taylor Minnick after her home run a win over Ohio State on April 2. (HN photo/Marley Reback)

Saturday would resume action where Ohio State jumped back out to the lead in the top of the fourth, but the Hoosiers would not look back from that point.

Indiana would finish with a win in the first game winning 17-9 and solidifying itself in the record book at 19 straight wins — the most in program history, breaking a record that was set in 1983.

“I tried to not make the moment too big,” said Indiana outfielder Kinsey Mitchell, who hit two triples for three RBIs in the Hoosier victory.

“It’s great to be able to celebrate what they accomplished…which is hard with a 60-game season,” said Stanton on setting the win streak record.

Sunday would see the double-header of the series as a complete flip saw a clear sky and sunny Andy Mohr Field for the rest of the series.

Indiana once again saw itself trailing early in the first Sunday game, down 2-0 heading into the third inning. Cora Bassett and Cassidy Kettleman would both successfully steal home along with the hitting of Avery Parker and a sac fly from Brianna Copeland to take a 4-2 lead.

Taryn Kern and Sarah Stone would both drive in runners to take a 6-2 lead, yet the Buckeyes responded with three runs in the top of the fifth to bring it to a one-score game.

Heather Johnson and Macy Montgomery both saw action at the circle where Johnson was rewarded with the win (9-6) as a scoreless sixth and seventh inning had Indiana winning the second game 6-5 and tallying its 20th straight win.

“We have to stay true to our identity,” said Stanton, as winning in all three phases has been the key to the recent success of the Hoosiers.

The final game of the series saw Kern inch her way closer to Indiana’s single-season home run record. A two-run home run in the first inning gave her No. 15 on the season. Sixteen is the mark to beat, which was set back in 1994 by Michelle Venturella.

Taryn Kern hits a first-inning home run in Indiana's win over Ohio State on April 2. (HN photo/Marley Reback)

Indiana took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and the Buckeyes would respond in the third to tie the game at three apiece, yet Ohio State would never take the lead as the Hoosiers would end up winning 10-7.

Minnick came up big with two home runs and Abby Meeks recorded her first Big Ten hit in style with a bases loaded three-run double.

“We got hitters one through nine…if you walk one person, the next might make you pay,” said Stanton.

Shortstop Brooke Benson became the unsung hero of the final game with some improbable plays at her shortstop position with six assists and some athletic grabs.

The Hoosiers are on a tear lately as they ride a 21-game win streak where the hitting has been their greatest success. In the Big Ten Indiana sits on top for batting average (.337), RBIs (236), home runs (46) and on-base percentage (.443) and it has been succeeding with flying colors during the win streak.

“It doesn’t feel like 21,” Indiana shortstop Brooke Benson said. “I’ve been having a blast with my team.”

The Hoosiers seem to only be looking ahead and it has been a recipe for the recent success as well as the 8-0 start in the Big Ten. Indiana will travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on Western Kentucky on Tuesday and quickly head up north for a weekend series against Big Ten opponent Minnesota which begins on Friday.

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