Tucson, Ariz.- The Indiana softball team shutout the Northern Iowa Panthers, 8-0, in five innings this afternoon at the Hillenbrand Invitational at the University of Arizona. The Hoosiers improve to 6-9 on the season while Northern Iowa falls to 3-7.
"The team came ready to play today," said head Coach Sara Hayes Nottger. "We played with a lot of heart and a lot of passion. They had a confidence in themselves as a team that we have not seen yet. I think this is going to be a really exciting tournament. We have found a new level at which to play the game."
IU had ten hits in the game with the entire team contributing to the offensive attack. Freshman Tory Yamaguchi went 2-for-3 with a three-run homerun, three RBI and a run scored. Freshman Kim Richards also had an impressive game going 1-for-3 with two RBI.
Sophomores Mariangee Bogado and Megan Roark shared the pitching duties for the Hoosiers. The duo combined for seven strikeouts while giving up just one hit.
Indiana got on the board in the first when senior Val White walked to start off the inning. Fellow senior Karly McCormack hit a triple, just the third of her career, into leftfield to score White. Designated player, sophomore Lauren Hines reached base after hitting a dribbler through the legs of the second baseman, scoring McCormack, and giving the Hoosiers a 2-0 advantage.
In the second inning the Hoosiers got three more runs. Senior Abby Stark started the inning with a base hit to right. White followed with a single, which brought Yamaguchi to the plate. Yamaguchi broke the game open when she slammed a three-run homerun to leftfield, putting Indiana up, 5-0.
"I have been more calm at the plate and have been seeing the ball well," said Yamaguchi. "It was easier to hit today because the whole team was hitting well and we were playing well as a team."
In the bottom of the fifth, the Hoosiers would end the ball game early when they scored three additional runs. Yamaguchi started the inning with a base hit to right field followed by two consecutive singles by McCormack and Hines. Bogado reached on an error by UNI, scoring Abby Page who was pinch running for Yamaguchi. Richards smacked a single to center field and McCormack and Hines both scored to end the ball game.
"The pitch was high and outside which is what I like to hit," said Richards. "Our team is playing really well right now and it is nice to get a win to start off the tournament."
Head coach Sara Hayes Nottger picked up her first win against a former team. Before taking over the reigns of the IU softball team in 2002, Nottger was the head coach at the University of Northern Iowa. She led the Panthers to a record of 58-59 during her two-year tenure.
Indiana's eight runs was the most runs the Hoosiers have scored in any single game this season. It also marked the first time this season that IU won a game due to the eight run rule and finished a game in less than seven innings.
After rain cancelled the first game of the tournament for the Hoosiers against the University of Texas-El Paso, it looks as if they will get both games in tomorrow. IU faces North Texas at 1:00 p.m. PST and No. 2 Arizona at 3:00 p.m. PST.