The Indiana softball team continues to make history in the 2022-23 season as they won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in 17 years by taking down the Louisville Cardinals 4-3.
Brianna Copeland (22-3) started at the circle and earned the win for the Hoosiers, pitching six and 1/3 innings with Macy Montgomery closing out the final two outs of the game. Copeland had to adjust due to a lead-off home run from Louisville’s Korbe Otis to open the game in the top of the first inning.
“You have to take it one batter and even one pitch at a time,” said Copeland.
The sophomore would finish with five total strikeouts on the day while giving up three total runs.
The Hoosiers responded to the 1-0 deficit they were facing as Sarah Stone drove an RBI single to send Taryn Kern home to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning.
Team 50 turned up the heat in the second and third innings to extend the lead to 4-1. In the bottom of the second Brooke Benson sent an RBI single to left field as Cassidy Kettleman touched home plate to give Indiana the lead.
Along with her ability to string together clutch hits, Benson’s fielding ability is the driving force of the Indiana defense.
“We don’t do what we do if she doesn’t flash her leather and make plays,” Indiana head coach Shonda Stanton said about Benson’s performance.
The third inning showed some of the true power that this Indiana team has flashed all season long as Stone was the lead-off and sent a solo shot clear over the fences. Copeland followed in suit as the Hoosiers collected back-to-back home runs.
“If you believe that you are one of the best hitting teams in the country, the results will follow,” Stanton said.
The sixth and seventh innings saw a comeback effort looming from the Cardinals that would come up just short. Designated player Taylor Roby opened the top of the sixth with a solo home run to bring the game within two runs.
Right fielder Vanessa Miller put more life into Louisville with a homer of her own that opened up the seventh inning. Indiana pumped the brakes by not allowing another hit for the final three outs of the game.
It is still all smiles for Team 50 as it will be facing the No. 1 seed in the Regional, the Tennessee Volunteers, who are the host school. The Volunteers throttled the No. 4 seed Northern Kentucky Lady Norse on Friday evening.
This Indiana team is both very young, and has not seen much postseason play in their collegiate careers before. Despite that, Stanton’s confident in the players’ ability to support each other and keep a good attitude, she said.
“Joy is our habit, love is our reflex,” Stanton said.
With the double-elimination style of play that the regional tournament possesses, Indiana has gotten only a foot in the door for what is going to be a very competitive weekend.