Bloomington, Ind. -- When first-year head coach Sara Hayes accepted the Indiana softball job this past summer, she knew that winning games in 2003 would need to be secondary to seeing game-by-game improvement. After back-to-back shutouts of Detroit and IUPUI during yesterday's action at the Indiana Classic, which improved Indiana's record to .500 after at least 20 games for the first time since 1998, her timetable looked to be escalated. Today's performance in losses to Detroit, 6-5, and IUPUI, 6-1, may have depressed the brake pedal a bit. Well, in Hayes' case, at least for this evening.
"We're taking baby steps," said Hayes. "Yesterday was awesome. We played about as well as we could play. Today, out pitching just wasn't there. We did some good things offensively against Detroit but didn't play well in any phase in the second game. We were ready to go to begin the day but we didn't adjust well to our opponent's pitching, nor did we adjust as a team to the uncommon occurrence of our pitcher's struggling."
All was not lost however. Indiana (10-12), who was the designated visiting team in today's opener vs. the Titans of Detroit, trailed 6-3 heading to the seventh inning yet scored twice to cut the deficit to 6-5. Yet, junior Heather Stillians, who was at second base with two outs in the seventh, was thrown out at home attempting to score the tying run on a single to right field by senior Katie Joy. Hayes, who only has 13 available players in the dugout, really had no choice but to send Stillians, who was thrown out by a matter of inches, as Megan Roark, a freshman pitcher with one plate appearance on the season, was waiting on deck and no other Hoosiers were available to hit.
What was probably the most discouraging element of this weekend's performances was Sunday's nightcap against IUPUI (13-18). The Jaguars scored three runs in the top of the first - benefiting greatly from three Indiana errors and a passed ball - and IU hitters could not solve the puzzle presented by freshman hurler Devan Craig, who allowed only five hits and one earned run in the complete game victory. The Lafayette, Ind., product did not walk a batter and struck out five. Conversely, Indiana sophomore starter Katie Witham (3-6) failed to see the shadow of the second inning as she was removed in favor of Stillians (6-6) with only two outs in the top of the first. Witham allowed three hits and two earned runs, in addition to walking a batter, in 2/3 innings pitched. Stillians was not spectacular in relief but pitched well enough to allow only four hits and one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, while walking one and striking out two.
With Stormy Hanson -- who has had a spectacular season to date and played both of today's games as the designated player -- struggling through an 0-for-7 day, no IU hitter recorded more than one hit against IUPUI. In the opener vs Detroit, the offensive star was junior catcher Abby Stark, who was 3-for-4 with a run scored, RBI, and a double. Stillians and Valerie White also recorded two hits each.
The offensive catalyst for IUPUI against the Hoosiers was senior leadoff hitter and centerfielder Brandy Moser, who was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Sophomore first baseman Barbara Ware, who hit a solo home run, walked twice, and scored two runs.
Stillians opened in the circle for the Hoosiers vs. Detroit (12-7) and allowed five hits and five runs (only one earned) in four innings pitched, while walking one and striking out five. Witham was hit hard in the sixth inning, which was her only stanza of work, yet Roark retired the Titans in order in the sixth, notching two strikeouts.
While Indiana recorded 10 hits against the Titans, it had difficulty stringing hits together against freshman pitcher Lindsay Roy (5-1), who earned the complete game victory. She allowed three earned runs, while walking two and striking out one. Indiana left eight runners on base.
Indiana returns to action on Wednesday when it travels to Terre Haute, Ind., to face the Indiana State Sycamores in a doubleheader before opening Big Ten action on Friday at Ohio State.
The following individuals were named to the Indiana Classic All-Tournament Team
PITCHERS Freshman Devan Craig - IUPUI
Freshman Lindsay Roy - Detroit
CATCHER Freshman Katrina Klemp - Detroit (MVP)
INFIELDERS Freshman Kristin Martin - Detroit
Junior Valerie White - Indiana
Sophomore Barbara Ware - IUPUI
OUTFIELDERS Senior Katie Joy - Indiana
Senior Brandy Moser - IUPUI
Sophomore Anna Ollgaard - Detroit