IU softball falls to Tennessee, faces elimination game

Indiana softball was unable to sustain momentum from its win over Louisville.

The Hoosiers lost to No. 4-seeded Tennessee, 9-1, in five innings on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. The Lady Volunteers won on the run rule, with an eight-run lead after the fifth inning.

Momentum was a big story in this game. IU actually led 1-0 in the first inning on a home run by freshman Taryn Kern, who won Big Ten freshman of the year and player of the year. But Tennessee answered back immediately with two homers in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead.

The Lady Vols tacked on two more runs in the second inning to make it 5-1. Indiana fought back in the third and had a big chance with the bases loaded and two outs. By that point, rain had already been falling for a little while. And the umpires sent the game into a rain delay with an 0-1 count on IU sophomore Brianna Copeland, who represented the tying run. IU head coach Shonda Stanton fiercely argued that decision, with her team in the middle of a potentially big inning. She even stood in front of the tarp while making her point, delaying it from being rolled out on the field.

That delay lasted more than five hours. Any momentum IU had evaporated during the break. Copeland quickly struck out to end the inning when play resumed. The Lady Vols put the game away with a grand slam in the fourth inning after a second — shorter — rain delay.

Indiana will now face the winner between Louisville and Northern Kentucky on Sunday at 2 p.m. in an elimination game. The winner advances to the regional final, needing to beat Tennessee twice to move on.