INDIANA SPLITS DOUBLEHEADER WITH 2002 NCAA TOURNEY PARTICIPANT EVANSVILLE
Bloomington, Ind. - If Evansville head softball coach Gwen Lewis believes in omens, today's doubleheader split with Indiana, while not to player entirely to her satisfaction, may bode well as the Purple Aces pursue their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2002, a season that ended with Evansville winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and earning an automatic tournament bid, the Purple Aces split a doubleheader with Indiana at Cooper Stadium in Evansville, winning 7-0, prior to losing the nightcap, 6-3. Today at the IU Softball Field, the games were quite similar as Indiana won the opener, 3-2, before falling in the nightcap, 8-0 (6).
In the opener, it was Evansville's inability to record a timely hit, or take advantage of four Indiana errors that left Lewis disappointed. To their credit, Indiana, under the direction of first-year head coach Sara Hayes, fought their way out of several jams throughout the game, including a bases loaded situation while leading 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning.
Indiana junior hurler Heather Stillians (8-14) was solid, yet not spectacular, in game one as she pitched the complete game, allowing nine hits and one earned run, while walking three and striking out one. The offensive stars for the Hoosiers were again senior catcher Stormy Hanson and junior outfielder Abby Stark. Hanson was 2-for-2 with a double and run scored, while Stark singled and drove in a run. Evansville sophomore Katie Markle (14-10), the 2002 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament MVP, allowed six hits in six innings pitched. She also allowed only one earned run, while walking three and striking out four. One of the walks was very costly, however, as she gave a free pass to freshman Lauren Hines with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, extending the IU lead to 3-1.
In the nightcap, Evansville was very unkind to IU sophomore Katie Witham (6-12), who failed to make it out of the second inning as she allowed eight hits, one walk, and five earned runs in 1.1 innings pitched. Evansville recorded 14 hits in the nightcap, 12 of which were singles. The Purple Aces countered Witham with sophomore Casey Clutch (9-8) in game two and the Anderson, Ind., product was impressive as she allowed only four hits in 6.0 innings of work. She walked two IU hitters and struck out four.
The Purple Aces scored three runs in the first inning and two additional runs in the second inning of game two to take a 5-0 lead and closed out the contest with a three-run sixth. All of the runs in the final stanza were unearned. One bright spot for the Hoosiers in game two was the performance of freshman reliever Megan Roark, who entered the game with one out in the top of the second inning. The Purple Aces had already scored a run and she inherited the bases loaded but worked out of the inning by allowing only one additional run to score. In all, she worked 4 2/3 innings and allowed six hits and three runs (none earned). She walked three and struck out seven.
Indiana did not record an extra base hit in the nightcap. Junior first baseman Valerie White paced the Hoosiers with two hits in three at-bats, including a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, which was a line shot that hit Clutch just below the throat and caused a short delay in the action.
In the opener, Indiana trailed 1-0 after the top of the first as shortstop Jamie Davison, who had doubled, scored on a single by first baseman Brooke Luker. The Hoosiers countered with two runs in the bottom of the same frame. After White led off the stanza with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Heather Suca, Hanson singled and stole second. Stark followed with a single that scored White. Hanson also scored on the play as Evansville centerfielder Kellie Pebler failed to keep Stark's single in front of her.
Five Evansville hitters notched at least two hits in the nightcap, including Luker who was 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Indiana returns to action on Friday when it faces Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich.