BLOOMINGTON — Indiana softball has made positive strides in two seasons under head coach Shonda Stanton.
IU will get to showcase that momentum when it hosts the Big Ten Tournament this weekend at Andy Mohr Field. As the sixth seed in the tournament, the Hooisers (35-20), will face 10th-seed Penn State on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
Indiana won 17 conference games in Stanton’s first season and started 14-0 this year before leveling off in conference play. IU went 11-5 at home, and Stanton believes playing at home could provide an advantage.
“We’ve played well at home,” Stanton said. “That’s exciting. You know you get to sleep in your own bed. You have the comfort of just your routine here. One less day of travel.”
It’s the first time Andy Mohr Field has hosted the Big Ten Tournament, and with all 11 games on the Big Ten Network, it will give national exposure to IU’s softball facilities and its fans.
“If the weather cooperates, I believe we’ll have a packed house,” Stanton said. “We’ve had a great fanbase this year, and we’re excited that they are going to see softball played at a very high level.”
This season, IU has been led by the pitching of senior righty Tara Trainer (25-10, 1.79 ERA) and hitting of sophomore Maggie Westmoreland (.320, 8 HR, 23 RBI). With an RPI at 46, the Hoosiers are on the bubble of earning an NCAA Regional Tournament berth. A win Thursday could put them over the hump. If IU wins Thursday, it would face second-seed Northwestern on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Westmoreland earned all-Big Ten first-team honors Wednesday, while Trainer and sophomore infielder Grayson Radcliffe were named to the second team.
“It’s really nice, just the fact that we have the opportunity to go to the tournament,” Westmoreland said. “We’re really grateful for that chance, but the major goal is to just take care of business here at the tournament just to ensure that we have an opportunity to get there.”
Purdue (30-26) also reached the tournament as an 11 seed and will face 6th-seed Rutgers on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Boilermakers have overcome a 4.08 ERA and 56 errors with a lineup that produces nearly five runs per game.
“Our pitching and our defense need to show up,” Purdue coach Boo De Oliveira said. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve had a couple of miscues here and there on defense, and we’ve had some amazing pitching performances, and we’ve had some games where we’ve had to use most of our bullpen. We just need everyone to show up and be confident.”
Indiana guard Romeo Langford and Purdue guard Carsen Edwards were among 66 players who received NBA combine invites Wednesday.
The combine will take place from May 15-17 in Chicago. The 6-foot-4 Langford is a projected mid first-round pick, while Edwards, coming off a dynamic scoring performance in the NCAA Tournament, could go early in the second round. Langford averaged a team-high 16.5 ppg while the 6-1 Edwards averaged 24.3 points while shooting 35.5 percent from 3-point range.
Both Indiana and Purdue’s athletic programs are above average in the classroom, according to NCAA Academic Progress Report data released Wednesday.
Of 22 athletic programs, IU had 14 athletic programs score higher than the national average of 983. Purdue had nine of 16 athletic programs score better than average.
Indiana’s football team finished with an APR score of 972, above the national Division I average of 968. IU men’s basketball scored at 944, below the D-I average of 967. Purdue men’s basketball (955) and football (956) both had scores below the D-I average.
The APR is an academic metric created by the NCAA that measures program performance based on eligibility and retention. Schools that fall below an average score of 930 for a four-year period can face postseason bans.
MORGAN WORKING OUT
Former IU forward Juwan Morgan worked out with the Memphis Grizzles on Wednesday and has another workout with the Minnesota Timberwolves scheduled Thursday, according to multiple reports.
The 6-8 Morgan appeared in all 35 games for the Hoosiers last season, finishing second on the team in scoring (15.5 ppg) while leading the team in rebounding (8.2). Morgan is on the radar as a potential late second-round pick in the NBA Draft but will need to continue to perform well in workouts. The Athletic NBA draft analyst Sam Vecenie rated Morgan as the 96th-best player in the draft, outside of the top 60 projected to be selected in the draft’s two rounds.
HOOSIERS HOOPS CAMPS
IU men’s basketball coach Archie Miller will host a series of basketball camps throughout the summer.
There will be three day camps, the first one running the week of June 17-20 (Grades 2-9), the second running the week of June 24-27 (Grades 2-9) and the third running the week of July 15-18 (Grades 2-7). Cost of the day camp is $310, and it will run each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition, Miller will host two shooting camps June 21 for Grades 5-10, one from 9 a.m. to noon and one from 2 to 5 p.m., with the cost of each camp $85. A junior Hoosier camp for ages 4-7 will be held June 28 from 9 a.m. to noon at a cost of $75.
Those interested in signing up can visit hoosiersportscamps.com for more information.