With the first conference games not taking place until March, the University of Indianapolis softball team started off their season with regional games. The Hounds were on the road for their first 14 games, with six in Westfield Ind. on Feb. 24, 25 and 26, ending 10-4 overall.
They faced the Cedarville University Yellow Jackets in the first game on Feb. 24, winning 5-0. The Hounds took the lead at the bottom of the first, scoring three runs on a sacrifice fly from sophomore utility Cathy Skaggs and a two-run single from freshman infielder Gianni Iannantone. They scored their final two runs in the fifth off a single from Skaggs. Sophomore pitcher and utility Lauren Honkomp and junior pitcher Katelyn Fisher kept the game scoreless for the Jackets.
UIndy suffered their first loss of the weekend to the Purdue University Northwest Pride. With the score 3-0 in favor of the Pride at the bottom of the second, the Hounds did not respond until the seventh. Skaggs had a leadoff walk, redshirt junior utility Brooke Riess hit a single, freshman catcher and utility Taylor Danielson hit a clutch two-run, pinch hit triple and freshman infielder Brooke Montgomery had a sacrifice fly, allowing the Hounds to score three. A single from Purdue Northwest and a fielding error were enough for the Pride to win 4-3.
On day two, the Hounds lost their first game by one run to the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals. UIndy scored their first run in the bottom of the second after senior catcher and utility Julia Liceaga plated Riess with a single and Montgomery brought her home with an RBI double. The Cardinals responded at the top of the third with three straight hits after an error extended the inning. They scored again in the fifth, and the Hounds responded off an RBI single from Liceaga in the sixth. Honkomp struck out seven batters, but the game ended 4-3 in favor of Saginaw Valley.
According to Head Coach Melissa Frost and senior outfielder Jessie Noone, the losses were primarily due to fielding errors. Frost said that the team beat themselves, and while they were disappointed, there were positives to the losses.
“I guess the flip side of that, you can look at it as it’s a positive because we make those improvements so next time we do come back on top,” Frost said. “So that [the losses] was disheartening a little bit, but I thought that we had a lot of good people step up over the weekend.”
The Hounds rallied in their second game of the day against the Ferris State University Bulldogs, winning by two. The game remained scoreless for the first two innings until the Hounds put the first points on the board with three runs in the third off a two-run double from freshman outfielder Sydnie Foster and an RBI single from Montgomery. The Bulldogs scored a run in the fifth. With the remaining two innings scoreless, the Hounds took the victory 3-1, earning Fisher her first decision and Honkomp her first save.
On Feb. 26, the Hounds went 2-0 in their games against Ferris State and Ohio Dominican University Panthers. Ferris State did not have a chance to score in their second game, as Halie Waters struck out 10 batters. A single from junior infielder Taylor Podschweit and an inside the park home-run from Danielson gave the Hounds the lead at the top of the first. A single from Montgomery in the fifth and two runs from Podschweit’s double at the top of the seventh gave the Hounds the win, 6-0.
Ohio Dominican took the lead in the first inning, scoring two runs. The Hounds responded, scoring one off a sac fly from Iannantone. The Panthers scored again at the top of the second, giving them a 3-1. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth, when the Hounds scored five off of triples from Montgomery and Danielson and singles from Iannantone and Skaggs. The Panthers responded in the seventh, adding one run to their score. The game ended 6-4 in favor of the Hounds. Frost said that the last two games the team played were against strong competitors, particularly Ohio Dominican.
“Traditionally, we play Ohio Dominican year in and year out and this is one of the best programs I’ve seen them have,” Frost said. “So just to watch our girls come from behind and step up and just really play together with a lot of competitiveness and a lot of drive and a lot of passion, it was really fun to watch.”
After a 4-2 weekend, the team had a weekend off. According to Frost, the team used the time to recuperate before going into their first conference games and the PFX Spring Games in Florida over spring break. The team continued to practice, focusing on defense and hitting and learning from their fielding errors, according to Noone. Frost said that the team is also working on finding the right combination of players.
“We have some games that really get going and we have some games that you can just tell we don’t have the right combination of people on the field yet,” Frost said. “We’ve really been trying to shuffle things around a little bit to try and find the right combination to help us win. But the girls are working hard and I think that if they continue that work ethic, I think we’ll be just fine.”
The team is also looking forward to the rest of their season. They are focused on winning a GLVC championship and the national championship and getting UIndy softball back in the top of the national and regional platforms, according to both Noone and Frost. Noone said that she is focused on helping the team win.
“I just go out and play and do my thing. I have fun,” Noone said. “I like to compete. I hate to lose. It’s really not about me, I don’t think. It’s more about the team and me helping the team out. So I think whatever I can do to help us succeed, that’s what I’ll do.”
The Hounds will play their first home and conference games of the season against the Drury University Panthers on Mar. 9 at Baumgartner Field.