Jan. 7, 2013
Back-to-back 30 win seasons. It was something that no Indiana softball team has accomplished in 22 years; but in 2012, the Hoosiers earned a 30-25 overall record to follow their 37 wins in 2011, marking the first time since 1989 and 1990 that IU posted consecutive 30-win campaigns. Indiana also went 14-10 in Big Ten play in 2012 for a share of fourth place with Northwestern in the conference standings. Paired with Indiana’s second place finish in 2011, the Hoosiers successively finished in the top four in the conference for first time since 1989 (4th) and 1990 (3rd).
Both are noteworthy feats, but that’s not all the Hoosiers accomplished in 2012. Behind an arsenal of talent in the lineup, which featured five players’ numbers above .300, the Hoosiers’ offense posted numbers that ranked near the top of several statistical categories in the program’s 39-year history.
At the plate, the Hoosiers combined for a .285 batting average for the fourth-best season mark in program history. IU’s bats also tallied 403 hits in 2012, the eighth-most in program records, and surpassed 400 hits for the first time since 2004. Those 403 hits helped the Hoosiers to 241 runs, a number that is second only to the 328 runs scored by the 1994 squad, and their 231 RBI represent just the second time IU has collected 200 or more in a single season (school record 278 in 1994).
What the Hoosiers did at the plate was impressive enough, but it was also what the Hoosiers did not do that was also notable. IU batters struck out just 203 times in 2012—the fewest in 15 seasons (172 in 1997). Their vision at the plate also attributed to 164 walks drawn last year, which is the second-most in a single season in IU softball history.
In the circle, the Hoosiers had big shoes to fill after losing 2011 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Morgan Melloh to graduation. A trio of hurlers would take the mound in 2012, with a majority of innings being split between both Lora Olson and Meaghan Murphy. Murphy went 10-4 in the circle in Big Ten action, tying for the second best record amongst conference pitchers. She also added two shutouts, and led the IU staff with 93 strikeouts. Olson pitched to a record of 14-14, the most wins by a freshman pitcher at Indiana since Jessica Creith recorded 15 wins in 1997. She led the team in ERA and tossed 13 complete games, including two shutouts and two saves.
All of this was attained against a considerable 2012 schedule, which featured teams from 14 different conferences (Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big Ten, Big West, Conference USA, Horizon, Mid-American, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Pac 12, Southland Conference, Sun Belt, WAC, West Coast Conference).
The Hoosiers ventured west to open their spring slate at the Hotel Encanto Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M. The season opener was a winner for Indiana, as the Hoosiers topped UIC, 4-2; the win was not only the first of the season, but was also the first season-opening victory for Head Coach Michelle Gardner since taking the helm at Indiana. After back-to-back losses to New Mexico State and Santa Clara, Indiana bounced back and closed out the weekend with a 9-1, five inning affair over Santa Clara. IU’s bats produced for the Hoosiers throughout the tournament, hitting .444 through its first four games to lead all Big Ten teams in 2012’s opening week.
IU continued its swing across the country in Las Vegas, Nev. for a five-game bill at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic. Indiana struggled to start, dropping four consecutive games to Utah, Long Beach State, BYU and Utah State; however, the Hoosiers would close out the weekend with an 8-5 victory over Memphis behind a solid pitching performance by Lora Olson. The righty hurler tossed four innings of one-run relief and got it done at the plate as well, connecting on a game-tying, two-run home run in the fourth inning. The Hoosiers would take this win and as well as its next four contests.
Those four wins opened up the Phyllis Rafter Memorial in Woodstock, Ga. Olson helped kick start IU’s winning ways with her first career complete game shutout in a 6-0 win over Eastern Kentucky. Indiana extended its winning streak to three after defeating Southeastern Louisiana in walk-off fashion, as Breanna Saucedo laced a two-out single to left field to plate Brianna Meyer from second base and lift IU over the Lady Lions, 2-1. The Hoosiers later topped Saint Louis, 5-4, behind a four-RBI day at the plate by Cassie Gogreve. Indiana strung together its fifth consecutive win after defeating Central Arkansas, 6-2, but the streak would eventually be spoiled by a pair of fielding errors in the bottom of the seventh inning in Indiana’s 3-2 loss to Bradley.
Next on tap for IU was the DeMarini Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. Indiana saw its toughest competition to date, opening the weekend with No. 10 Stanford. The Hoosiers battled the Cardinals through eight innings but would eventually take a 7-3 loss. Despite giving up 17 hits to opposing batters, Olson forced Stanford to strand 14 runners on base and struck out five. In game two of the DeMarini Invite, Indiana rallied late but to no avail in a 4-3 setback to Oregon State. Game three saw a different result. The Hoosiers took advantage of sloppy defensive play by Florida International early on, but when the Panthers rallied to tie the game in the fifth, IU responded with a pair of runs to come away with a 7-5 victory. After following that win with a 4-1 loss to Southern Miss, the Hoosiers regrouped for a comeback win over East Carolina to close out their trip to the Golden State owning an overall record of 9-10.
The Hoosiers closed out its 24-game road stretch with a five-game stay in Norman, Okla., where IU would take on both Wichita State and No. 8 Oklahoma. Indiana outscored the Shockers 11-0 and 6-3 in their two meetings, but the Sooners proved to be a formidable opponent, taking all three contests against the Hoosiers.
After trekking all over the country for a month, the Hoosiers finally returned home to host their annual Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind. IU defended its home turf quite handedly, outscoring opponents by a combined four-game total of 22-9. A pair of wins against UIC and single game victories over both Central Michigan and Wright State helped create momentum heading into conference play.
The Big Ten schedule kicked off in Columbus, Ohio in late March, as the Hoosiers took on Ohio State for a three-game series at Buckeye Field. Game one proved to be a nail-biter between the two teams. Facing a one-run deficit in the seventh, Indiana rallied to tie the game with two outs on an Amanda Wagner double to left to knot the game at three runs apiece and eventually force the contest into extra innings. Ohio State would have the final say in the eighth, taking game one of the series, 4-3. In game two, Indiana had no problem getting past OSU, 4-1, but the Buckeyes would close out the series with a 7-3 win.
IU headed back home with a 1-2 mark in conference play and welcomed No. 20-ranked Michigan to Bloomington. The Wolverines snapped the Hoosiers’ 15-game home win streak, but Indiana responded in a big way in game two with a 7-2 win over the Wolverines—the first over Michigan in Bloomington since 1996. Indiana’s Meghan Murphy was solid in the circle, holding Michigan’s powerful lineup to just two runs in the contest. Michigan took game three to put Indiana at 2-4 in conference games.
IU took a week off before returning to action in Bloomington, this time against in-state rival, Purdue. The Hoosiers took the first two-of-three contests to improve to 4-5 in conference action. Meyer provided late inning heroics in the first of two wins against the Boilermakers. Her walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh helped Indiana to a 3-2 victory and also dished Purdue their first conference loss in 2012. IU’s offense continued to be clutch in game two and was highlighted by Wagner’s 4-for-4 day that included two longballs and four RBI to help Indiana take down Purdue, 9-5; however, the Boilermakers would take the series finale and put the Hoosiers at 4-5 in B1G action.
After playing nine straight conference games, the Hoosiers headed to Terre Haute, Ind. for a midweek non-conference tilt with in-state opponent Indiana State. Against the Sycamores, Olson tossed her second complete-game shutout of the year complemented by a career-high seven strikeouts to help lead the Hoosiers to a 4-0 win.
Indiana carried that momentum into its next contest at Penn State. The Hoosiers put together a five-run fifth inning en route to a 12-6 win over the Nittany Lions in game one of a Friday doubleheader, but Penn State would take game two in a 3-2 win. PSU’s bats came out swinging in the rubber match and put the Nittany Lions ahead 7-1 in the second inning. The deficit proved to be too much to overcome, as Penn State took the final game, 9-4.
A Wednesday doubleheader at Ball State saw the Hoosiers falling to the eventual 2012 Mid-American Conference champions. Indiana scored four against the Cardinals, but Ball State showed why they were one of the top hitting teams in the country as they tallied 15 hits for 12 runs against the Hoosiers.
Indiana then returned home to resume conference action as they hosted Northwestern. In game one, Indiana overcame a five-run deficit to overtake the Wildcats, 8-6; but Northwestern would return the favor in game two, outscoring IU by a score of 8-3. Indiana wasted no time in stepping up for the bottom half of the day’s doubleheader, barraging NU’s pitching staff with 10 hits and coaxed seven walks from Wildcat hurlers to close out the weekend with an 11-3 decision.
After falling short in their midweek meeting against No. 9 Louisville, the Hoosiers ventured to Iowa City, Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes in a trio of contests. IU split its day one doubleheader, taking the first of two in a nine inning, 1-0 thriller against the Hawkeyes. Murphy went the distance in the circle, scattering seven hits while striking out four in the complete game shutout. The Hoosiers’ defense also played a vital role in that victory, as IU’s outfield threw out two runners at the plate in the bottom of the seventh to keep the game scoreless. At the plate, Kelsey Brannon owned four of the team’s nine hits. In game two, Iowa would prevail, 4-0 and in the series finale, Indiana had no answer for Iowa’s 10 runs, falling by as many in five innings of play.
The Hoosiers would return home and achieve its first Big Ten series sweep of 2012 against Nebraska. Murphy held the Cornhuskers to just two runs in the first game of a series-opening doubleheader, while Cassie Gogreve provided a two-out, three-run double to give the Hoosiers a three run lead in the first—a lead IU never surrendered throughout the remainder of the contest. Gogreve delivered timely hitting again in game two, this time a two-run triple in the fifth to help Olson secure the win and put Indiana one game over .500 on the year. In game three, it would be Shannon Cawley who would propel the Hoosiers past Nebraska, as she drove a three-run shot over the right field fence to put IU ahead by three in the first. The Cornhuskers would plate two, but that would not be enough, allowing the Hoosiers to a 4-2 series-clinching win.
The Hoosiers would secure their fourth, fifth and sixth consecutive wins on road when they visited the Spartans of Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. for IU’s final series of the 2012 campaign. IU took care of MSU 4-2 in game one, but needed extra innings to take down the Spartans in the second game of the series. In the series and season finale, Indiana ended 2012 on a positive note. The 6-5 victory over Michigan State represented IU’s sixth-straight win, the longest streak of the 2012 season, and helped close out the year at 35-25 (14-10 Big Ten, Fourth Place).
The Hoosiers efforts welcomed a number of postseason honors. Cawley was tabbed First Team All-Big Ten, becoming the first IU freshman to be named to the first team since Kim Powers in 1988. She also is one of three IU softball players to earn first team honors in the past two seasons (Morgan Melloh and Sara Olson in 2011). Joining Cawley on the All-Big Ten list were Amanda Wagner Cassie Gogreve. Wagner earned second team honors for the second consecutive year, while Gogreve was named to the All-Big Ten Third Team.
Shannon Cawley (First Team)
Amanda Wagner (Second Team)
Cassie Gogreve (Third Team)
Big Ten Weekly Awards
Player of the Week
Amanda Wagner (April 23, 2012)
Freshman of the Week
Brianna Meyer (April 23, 2012)
Academic All-Big Ten
Outstanding Sportsmanship Award
NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete
Most Valuable Player: Amanda Wagner
Most Outstanding Player: Amanda Wagner
Pitcher of the Year: Meaghan Murphy and Lora Olson
Freshman of the Year: Shannon Cawley and Brianna Meyer
Most Improved Player: Kelsey Brannon and Samantha Berenter
Gold Glove: Samantha Heyman
Hoosier Award: Heather Nelson