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

Kern breaks single-season home run record as Indiana's win streak ends against Minnesota

Taryn Kern has an IU-record 17 home runs, and is closing in on more records

Even the mighty shall fall. 

That was true for Indiana softball this weekend after traveling to Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Gophers this past weekend, losing the series 2-1. 

Indiana had been on a record-breaking win streak, up to 23 games in a row after squeezing in a win on Friday, when its miraculous run came to an end on Saturday. 

It was a slow start on Friday. It was not until the top of the fourth inning when Bri Copeland sparked the flame for the Indiana team with a home run to center. 

The lead did not last long as the Gophers would tie it back up in the bottom of the fourth. 

While a key moment in Indiana softball history was put to an end, there were still records broken this weekend. Freshman Taryn Kern became the Indiana softball single-season home run leader in the top of the fifth with her three-run home run, her 17th of the season. This broke IU Hall of Famer and Olympian Michelle Venturella’s previous record that was set in 1994. 

“I’ve obviously wanted to break this goal and to see it come true, just to honor Michelle Venturella’s record, she’s an amazing player, and she did so much for this program,” Kern said. “I’m just honored.”

Taylor Minnick would be next to go yard with another home run before the inning was up, but Minnesota answered, making the game 5-3 at the end of fifth. 

Three runs on four hits in the sixth inning gave Indiana an extra boost and Elle Smith would tack on one more in the top of the seventh to win the game 9-3, putting the Hoosiers at 30-9, 9-0 in the conference, and would round out their win streak to 23. 

That would be the end of the fun for Indiana this weekend. 

In the second game of the series, Minnesota got the early jump with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the second. Indiana was unfazed, putting five runs on the board in the top of the fourth with help from a two-run double from Kern. 

However, that would be the only runs Indiana would put up the rest of the day. 

Minnesota would add two more runs right after, making it a 5-3 game. One run in the fifth and another in the sixth would make it a tie game for the Hoosiers and the Gophers going into the seventh. Minnesota was the one to come out alive, adding one more run making the final score 6-5, ending the streak. 

The final game on Sunday would be another battle and one that felt all too familiar. Minnesota would once again hit a leadoff home run giving the Gophers an early advantage. 

Again, Indiana would go on a short run, making it a 3-1 game, but once again Minnesota would tie it back up, 3-3 going into the fourth. 

It looked like Indiana might be able to pull it off, adding two more in the fourth, but ultimately could not match Minnesota in the circle, giving up five more runs throughout the rest of the game, giving the final score of 8-5. 

Indiana went from a 23-game win streak, to now a two-game losing streak. 

While it is disappointing, Indiana still showed off some of its redeeming qualities over the weekend. Copeland is now 14-0 in the circle. Kern is on the hunt to break another program record: Venturella’s single season RBI record is 65, set in 1994. Kern is currently at 49. The second place is 52 from Maddie Westmoreland in 2018 followed by Venturella with 51 in 1995. Bats were still swinging, which is the main focus of head coach Shonda Stanton’s game plan, with 25 hits this weekend. 

These losses are nothing for the Hoosiers or their fans to be discouraged about. Good things are yet to come from this team. A loss can be a bigger learning experience for a team than a win and ultimately make them better and more resilient in the future, Stanton said. 

“I’m proud of the way we’ve started the season in the Big Ten,” Stanton said. “It gives us an opportunity when you have a mishap or stumbling, a block in the road or a little detour, we have money in the bank.”

The Hoosiers will get the chance to get back on their feet with a busy week ahead of them — Louisville at home on Tuesday, Notre Dame in South Bend on Wednesday, and they will bring it back home for a series against Nebraska this upcoming weekend.

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