HOOSIERS DEFEAT SAN JOSE STATE, 4-2
IU DEFEATS EIU, 10-2, IN MERCY RULE VICTORY
Las Cruces, N.M. - This is the time of year when cold weather baseball and softball teams are usually thumped by programs who are fortunate to compete in warmer weather climates. San Jose State (2-4) entered today's New Mexico State Softball Tournament having already played five games during the young 2003 campaign, including two contests against top-ranked California, the defending NCAA champions. In its season opener, the Spartans were tied with the defending national champs, 1-1, before eventually falling, 3-1. San Jose State has already defeated Tennessee earlier in the season. At the same time, Indiana's exposure to the outdoors amounted to walking from Assembly Hall to the Mellencamp Pavilion for preseason practice. First-year head coach Sara Hayes was well aware that today's opener would be anything but easy.
While the first paragraph may sound like it was setting up negative news to come, it was Indiana (1-0) who put together a complete performance and defeated the Spartans, 4-2, before 125 fans. Junior pitcher Heather Stillians (Atascadero, Calif./Atascadero) was the headliner on the evening as she a complete-game, allowing only six hits and two earned runs, while walking two and striking out six. She also drove in two runs on a single in the top of the fourth inning that broke a 1-1 tie. Stormy Hanson (Las Vegas, Nev./Silverado) also drove in a run for the Hoosiers. Indiana recorded seven hits, while only committing one error.
"We had some very clutch performances and kept pressure on San Jose State throughout the game," said Hayes. "Heather Stillians made some great things happen, both on the mound and at the plate. Heather Suca also made plays. We're going to go at people and today we were put in a lot of learning situations today. We have to continue to learn."
Indiana threatened to score in the first inning. With no outs, junior Valerie White (Torrance, Calif./North) reached first base on an error by San Jose State shortstop Courtney Lewis and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Heather Suca (Shorewood, Ill./Joliet West). Stormy Hanson followed with a sharply hit single to rightfield off of Spartans pitcher Carol Forbes but SJSU's Tara Hall threw out White at the plate to end the Hoosier threat.
In the bottom of the first inning, San Jose State centerfielder Becca Baldridge drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice. She advanced to third on a single by Veronica Ramos and scored on a single by Jessica Guillen. Stillians was able to work out of the inning as she forced Forbes to ground into a double play.
With two outs in the top of the second inning, junior Abby Stark (Vancouver, Wash./Central Catholic) singled to leftcenter but was thrown out at second base attempting to stretch a single into a double.
After Stillians settled in and faced the minimum six batters during the second and third innings, Indiana put the pressure on San Jose State in the top of the fourth inning, scoring three runs all with no outs. Suca led off the inning with a walk and scored on a double by Hanson, who advanced to third base on a fielder's choice by Dawn Ramyncke (Placentia, Calif./Sonora), who reached on an error and advanced to second base. With runners on second and third base, Stillians helped her own cause with a two-run single to centerfield. Still with no outs, Stillians advanced from second to third base on a single to center by sophomore Ashley Griffiths (Dove Canyon, Calif./Trabuco). The single by Griffiths ended the day for Forbes as she gave way to reliever Courtney Lewis. In three innings, Forbes allowed five hits and three earned runs, while walking one and striking out two.
The Hoosiers increased their lead to 4-1 in the top of the fifth inning as Suca singled and advanced on a groundout by Hanson. She scored from second when San Jose State attempted to throw behind her on a delayed steal attempt. She scored when the shortstop threw the ball into the third base dugout.
San Jose State loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth inning but failed to score. The Spartans left the potential tying run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning.
XXXXXXX IU DEFEATS EASTERN ILLINOIS, 10-2XXXX
In the nightcap, senior Stormy Hanson recorded four hits in four at-bats, including two doubles, two triples, and four RBI to lead the Hoosiers to a 10-2 victory over Eastern Illinois (0-2). Sophomore Katie Witham (1-0) earned the victory on the mound for the Hoosiers, allowing only five hits and no runs, while walking one and striking out three, in six innings pitched. Junior Abby Stark also recorded two hits and an RBI for the Hoosiers as Indiana recorded its first 2-0 start since the 1994 season, a campaign in which the Hoosiers finished 49-16 and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals. The two victories marked the first time since 1977 that an IU head softball coach won the first two games of her career as a Hoosier head coach.
In the bottom of the first inning of the second game vs. Eastern Illinois, leadoff hitter Valerie White reached base on an infield error and scored on a line shot triple to centerfield by Hanson, which gave the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead. IU increased its lead to 2-0 on a sacrifice fly to left field by Dawn Ramyncke.
The Hoosiers increased their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third inning as Hanson tripled for the second time. She went on to score on the play as a throw by second baseman Kristin Lovering flew into the Indiana dugout, which was located along the third base line.
Eastern Illinois cut into the IU in the top of the fourth inning, scoring two runs with the aid of three Indiana errors. With two outs, Eastern’s Kristin Lovering reached on an error by shortstop Heather Suca. Mandy Lindwall followed with a single that advanced Lovering to third and both advanced on a passed ball. Lovering scored on a throwing error by Hanson as she attempted to pick off the Panther runner at third base. Lindwall scored on a two-out error by Suca to draw to within 3-2.
Indiana increased its lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Hanson doubled to second and scored on a single by Ramyncke. With runners on first and second base, Abby Stark plated Ashley Griffiths from second base.
The Hoosiers scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to end the game by "Mercy Rule" (eight-or-more run lead after five complete innings). Freshman Lauren Hines, making the first appearance of her career, reached base after being hit by a pitch. Third baseman Kristine Dugan reentered the game to run for Hines and Valerie White drew a walk, advancing Dugan to second. After Trish Sanders entered the game on the mound for the Panthers, she immediately walked Suca to load the bases. Hanson doubled to left field, a shot that cleared the bases. Heather Stillians later singled to score Hanson and was ultimately plated on a run-scoring double by Abby Stark.
Indiana returns to action at 10:30 a.m. EST/8:30 a.m. EST on Saturday morning vs. Marshall. The Hoosiers continue tournament play at 2:30 p.m. MT on Saturday vs. Southwest Texas State.