Bloomington, Ind. --For the fourth consecutive time this season, Indiana split two games on a single day as the Hoosiers lost to Bradley, 5-4, in the first game of today's doubleheader before outslugging the visiting Braves in the nightcap, 10-6, under rainy skies at the IU Softball Field. The brightest light for the Hoosiers throughout today's action was freshman Lauren Hines, who recorded her first collegiate home run in today's first game and notched four hits in six at-bats, to go along with two runs scored, and four RBI on the day.
"It was just a good pitch to hit on the outside part of the plate," said Hines of her opposite field home run during the seventh inning of Indiana's 5-4 loss. "I just went with pitch and made good contact. I didn't even feel it when it came of the bat. We were a completely different team today. We were more trusting of our teammates and played with more confidence."
The outcome of the second game was never in much doubt as the Hoosiers (8-10 overall) scored four runs in the bottom of the first and added another run in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead. Hines' two-run single to right field off of Bradley starter Brittany Dehler (2-5)in the first stanza guided the Hoosiers in the right direction and junior Abby Stark added another run with a run-scoring single later in the inning that gave the Hoosiers a comfortable lead. The four-run cushion was essentially all junior starting pitcher Heather Stillians (5-5) needed as she allowed five hits and three runs, only one of which was earned, in 4 1/3 innings pitched. She did not allow a walk and struck out one.
Freshman Megan Roark relieved Stillians in the top of the fifth inning of the second game yet struggled with her control before giving way to sophomore Katie Witham, who closed out the contest. Dehler, who sustained the loss to fall to 2-5 on the young season, allowed seven hits and nine runs (five earned), while walking three and striking out four, in four innings pitched.
"Our players had an entirely different approach today," said first-year head coach Sara Hayes. "We were ready to go from the very first inning of the first game and we were loose and aggressive. Our staff is looking for us to be consistent with our approach and we accomplished that today. We were pleased with the way that Lauren performed and Stormy had yet another good day."
In the first game, Indiana had several golden opportunities to score but IU runners were thrown out at the plate twice on throws from the outfield and also failed on a suicide squeeze attempt. Indiana held a 3-2 after five innings but the Braves scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 5-3 lead, an advantage they never relinquished. Hines' solo home run in the bottom of the sixth drew the Hoosiers to within 5-4 but relief pitcher Brittany Dehler entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and retired Stillians, the only hitter she faced, on a ground out to end the game.
Junior Kristy Brod (3-3) earned the victory for the Braves (6-13 overall, 1-2 Missouri Valley Conference) in the first game as she allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings pitched, while walking three and striking out one. Leadoff hitter Laura Harms paced Bradley with three of the Braves nine hits, all of which were singles, and also recorded an RBI. Indiana tallied eight hits, five of which were for extra bases, including doubles by Hanson, who also hit a triple, Stark, and Stillians, and the home run by Hines.
In the nightcap, Bradley actually outhit the Hoosiers, 10-9, but committed four errors. The "S" Triplets - Stillians, Stark, and Suca - all notched doubles and recorded two hits on the day. Suca also tallied a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base.
Indiana returns to action this Saturday as it hosts the Indiana Classic at the IU Softball Field. The Hoosiers open tournament play with a 12:30 p.m. contest against IUPUI.