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Indiana softball off to undefeated start, ranked 16th nationally

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SOFTBALL SCHOOL.

It’s only March 1, but one spring sports team at IU is already making headlines for its undefeated start.

IU softball has won its first 14 games, including a gutsy 6-4 win over 8th-ranked Georgia. Others have taken notice of IU’s fast start, and the Hoosiers are ranked 16th nationally in the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. Furthermore, IU has yet to play a home game, so all of these wins have come at road or neutral-site locations so far.

And the Hoosiers have won in a variety of ways as well. Two of their first three games, against UVA and St. John’s, were won in Mercy Rule-shortened five-inning victories (the usual softball game lasts seven innings). On the other hand, Indiana won a marathon 11-inning game at Mercer last weekend winning 8-7 after Tete Hart scored after a sacrifice fly by Gabbi Jenkins and a fielding error by Mercer.

Indiana’s star pitcher is senior Tara Trainer, who has a 9-0 record and a save with an 0.84 ERA on the season so far. Trainer, who came to IU after being named the Ohio Gatorade Softball Player of the Year, is coming off a first team all-B1G season in 2018, so her dominance on the mound comes as no surprise. Other stars include leadoff hitter Taylor Lambert, who’s batting .349 and has 11 steals. Katie Lacefield is the power hitter on the team, and she’s already collected 5 home runs and 10 RBIs, with an OPS of 1.144. The Hoosiers are coached by Shonda Stanton, who’s in her second season in Bloomington after a successful 18-year stint at Marshall.

This weekend, Indiana travels to Baton Rouge for the Purple and Gold challenge. The biggest test will be in its second game tonight, when they face host LSU, ranked 10th in the nation, at 8:30pm. The Hoosiers will also go up against Stephen F. Austin, USC-Upstate, and Illinois State this weekend, as they hope to keep their undefeated streak alive.

Local fans will get their first glimpse of Indiana this coming Tuesday, when the Hoosiers host Butler at Andy Mohr Field, which is located right next to Bart Kaufman Field at the corner of Fee Lane and the Bypass. And if you’re around during Spring Break, Indiana hosts the Hoosier Classic March 15-17, in which they’ll face Toledo, Ohio, Northwestern, and St. Francis.

If you’re in Bloomington, it’s definitely worth catching a game — softball games are fast-paced and action-packed. If not, check the schedule and you can listen to the broadcast of most games, or watch some of them on BTN Plus. With its quick start, Indiana is in the driver’s seat for Big Ten softball as conference play approaches, and we’ll be following this team throughout its season.