In a season which has been a struggle for Purdue softball, the Boilermakers (10-28, 3-6 Big Ten) hoped to find some success as they take a break from Big Ten play in a doubleheader against Indiana State (17-18, 5-6).
The two teams ended up splitting the pair of games, as Purdue won the first game 8-6 behind timely hitting, and then followed that up with a 3-2 loss in which they almost battled back from an early deficit.
“I was happy with our performance in Game 1, that we were able to get a win out of it,” head coach Boo De Oliveira said after the game. “Game 2, I thought (Sydney) Bates pitched a really good game in Game 2 in relief, and (I am) looking forward to this weekend.”
Bates, the freshman pitcher, was the star for Purdue, as she pitched 11 innings in total while getting the win in the first game. She then came in as relief in Game 2, and threw five impressive hitless innings while holding the Sycamores off the score-sheet and keeping the Boilers in the game.
“My confidence has definitely boosted, playing these bigger teams and doing well against them. I know the outcomes aren’t always what we want. ... As long as I perform well it boosts my confidence,” Bates said after the game.
Getting out to a solid start was key for the Boilermakers in the first game, as they held on for an 8-6 win in a game in which they held leads of 3-0 and 8-3.
Purdue had to weather the storm of a furious Indiana State rally in the top of the seventh inning, as junior pitcher and outfielder Maddie Damon was tasked with holding off the Sycamores. She earned the final two outs of the game to secure the victory.
The difference in the first game came from a hitting standpoint for Purdue, as five players ended the game with at least one RBI.
One player that especially impressed for the Boilers was freshman center fielder Ryleigh Scott, who ended Game 1 batting 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Other standout performers for Purdue were home-run leader and junior third baseman Jenny Behan, who came up with a key single in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend the Purdue lead, and junior first baseman Lexi Huffman, who singled home two runs to get things going for the Boilers in the first inning.
Moving on to the second half of the doubleheader, it was the Sycamores who got off to the quick start, leading 3-0 after the top of the first inning. The start was highlighted by junior catcher Brooke Mann’s two-run home run, which she blasted over the wall in left field.
Purdue was able to stay in the game thanks to Bates’ performance on the mound, along with a solo home run from Behan in the fourth inning and an RBI single from sophomore shortstop Halle Hixenbaugh in the fifth inning.
Behan leads the Boilermakers with seven home runs and 29 RBIs, playing a key role after transferring from James Madison after playing her freshman and sophomore years there.
“My teammates do a great job at making me feel confident, so it makes it that much easier going to the plate knowing that my teammates are behind me,” Behan said when asked about her success this season.
Ultimately, Purdue was unable to complete the comeback, as Indiana State held on behind a save from Della Gher, her sixth of the year.
The Boilers continue Big Ten play this Friday at Nebraska, hoping to salvage some success out of a season in which they have struggled throughout.