Currently ranked No. 1, the University of Indianapolis softball team has a 38-1 record, prior to competing against Urbana University on Tuesday, April 12. Over the weekend, UIndy swept the University of Illinois Springfield 10-0 and 2-0 on Saturday, April 9. The day before, the Greyhounds beat McKendree University 5-4 and 9-6.
While facing off against Illinois Springfield, UIndy had 16 hits between the two games. The pitching duties were split between senior pitcher Coryn Tirpak and Morgan Foley.
Against McKendree in game one, UIndy was down 2-0 at the end of the first inning but bounced back at the top of the second to tie the game at 2-2. The Bearcats had a 4-3 lead heading into the seventh inning. Junior utility Natalie Lalich stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a double, allowing two Hounds to cross the plate and take a 5-3 lead.
McKendree got on the board first in game two, but in the third inning UIndy scored four runs to take a 4-1 lead. The Bearcats scored five more runs before the end of the seventh inning, but it was not enough due to five runs that were scored between the fifth and sixth inning by the Greyhounds. UIndy earned a 9-6 win, and had 11 hits in the victory.
In the first game against Bellarmine, sophomore outfielder Jessie Noone hit a single in the sixth inning to start off the action for the Greyhounds. Senior catcher Jenny Thompson followed Noone’s single with a bunt, and freshman infielder Emma Varsbergs and Lalich followed with hits. Varsbergs and Lalich were the only two to cross home plate, bringing the score to 2-0 in favor of the Greyhounds.
The momentum continued as UIndy won 9-3 in game two. Sophomore infielder Brooke Riess led the team with three hits and had her sixth home run of the season. Five Greyhounds had two hits apiece during the game.
Pitching duties for the two games were split between senior pitcher Miranda Tamayo and Foley. Foley pitched a total of 11.1 innings and threw 15 strikeouts. Tamayo threw the first 2.2 innings of game two and threw three strikeouts.
Before the games against Bellarmine, Liam Ealy threw out the first pitch in honor of the Hounds’ MDA Game. Ealy is the nephew of softball alum Megan Slightom and has muscular dystrophy. The softball team has been raising money for MDA research through T-shirt sales and donations and before the game Head Softball Coach Melissa Frost presented the Ealy family with a check for $8,017.15 for MDA. According to Noone, each player had a responsibility of her own to raise money for MDA.
“We focused on T-shirts and got a bunch of donations for Liam,” Noone said. “Each player on our team was to get a $250 donation from people … and that goes to Team Liam. And then we also sold T-shirts throughout the day … and I think we sold all of those except about seven of them.”
Both Noone and Frost said that the team felt strongly about helping raise awareness for MDA. Frost said that through the support of Slightom’s family, that they got to know more about Liam and MDA.
“Megan played for me in my first couple of years here,” Frost said. “And their family has just been a great support system to the UIndy softball family. And unfortunately, at a young age, Liam was diagnosed with MD. They’re just a great, great family; and we just wanted to do what we could to give back and help out in any way possible. And it’s just really close to our team, and it really touches our heart in numerous ways, just as the Hall family does.”
During the game, both Bellarmine and UIndy wore “Team Liam” shirts to show their support for MDA.
“Even though we’re rivals on the field, it’s a united front for MDA on the field,” Frost said. “That’s the biggest thing, and really that day was just to celebrate and honor and bring awareness to MDA…. I just can’t thank the people enough that supported us and donated and gave and bought shirts. I can’t say enough great things and enough thank yous to all of them in the community as well.”
According to Frost, the team has a goal of a National Championship this year after making it to the World Series last season. Frost said they are working hard in practice and on the field to make it to the World Series again. She said their experience from last season will help them this year if they make it to the World Series.
“I think being at the World Series last year, and getting there, and Morgan throwing a no-hitter and shutting out the team that eventually went on to win it—I think this team just has a taste of what it’s like to get there and what caliber teams there are there once we get there,” Frost said. “I think we played great the first day of the World Series, and average the second day, and you just can’t do that.”
The Hounds have great chemistry this year, which will help them go far, Frost said. They are also working a lot on improving their hitting during practice Noone said.
“Just doing extra, coming in and staying after practice [has helped us improve],” Noone said, “and doing extra hitting. A lot of the girls have been coming to extra hitting this year, and it’s really shown, because we’ve been hitting a lot better.”
Noone also said that the Greyhounds have been working on doing their best and playing to win every game. She said they have been working together to help improve individually.
“I think we just try to hold each other accountable,” Noone said. “We know each other well enough that if we see someone slacking, we’ll call them out.… We just do everything we can to get better.”
Noone said to expect more wins from the team this season. The Greyhounds have three weeks of the regular season left before the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament begins.
Frost said that she would like to see UIndy continue to regionals and then on to the World Series, but that the Hounds will have to work hard to make it.
“I think it’s a tough road for us, that’s the big thing,” Frost said. “I think we have some quality teams coming up. Our schedule doesn’t get any easier. As a matter of fact, it gets harder…. It’s really a trying time for our girls academically, as the semester winds down, but at the same time, it’s really gear up time for softball. So we have to give it our best on the field and in the classroom.”
The Greyhounds will travel to Ashland University for a non-conference game on April 14. The game is set to begin at 3:30 p.m.