Jaguars softball claims first Summit League title

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The IUPUI softball team clinched its first-ever Summit League title with a 20-6 victory over Fort Wayne. Photo by Ben Ely, IUPUI Sports Information

The IUPUI softball team reached its summit on Sunday: The program pulled off the improbable by earning its first regular-season conference title with a 20-6 win over the Fort Wayne Mastodons. The victory was especially sweet because the Jaguars were picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the Summit League preseason polls.

The Jags started fast in their historic victory, erupting for seven runs in the first inning. The powerful offense finished with 19 hits.

Seniors led the way with 14 RBIs. Maggie Good continued to be an absolute terror in the series, clubbing two home runs in a 3-for-4 performance that brought four RBIs. She upped her season total to 16 home runs and 47 RBIs, both of which are new IUPUI single-season records.

Roni Patterson went 2-for-3 with a home run, tying the all-time program record for most career home runs (39), three runs scored and four RBIs. She's now tied for the second-most hits at IUPUI, with 208, and needs just one run to tie that all-time program record as well.

Senior Alyssa Matson finished the afternoon 3-for-5, scoring three times and bringing home three RBIs. She extended her hits total to a league-best 60. Taylor Chitwood went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while four other players joined her with two hits each: Maggie ArmstrongDelaney ThompsonMandy Dallas and McKenzie Loge. Every player in the Jags' lineup got at least one hit.

From the pitcher's circle, Erica Tharp was absolutely crucial for the Jags, coming in as relief in just the second inning. She pitched 3.2 innings while surrendering only two hits with no earned runs. She helped the Jags preserve a one-run lead in the second by inducing a ground out and a pop out with runners on and only one out. 

A wild start

Things started very quickly for the Jags. With a pair on, Patterson came out swinging, knocking a three-run shot down the left-field line that cleared the fence. Good followed with her first home run, a solo shot to center field.

The Jags weren't done in the opening frame. After an Armstrong single and a fielder's choice, Dallas doubled to left center. A walk to Loge loaded the bases before Matson doubled to clear them. After the dust settled, IUPUI had a seven-run lead before the team's first pitch. 

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IUPUI's Erica Tharp fires a pitch during May 7's Summit League clinching victory over Fort Wayne. The Jaguars trounced the Mastodons 20-6. Photo by Ben Ely, IUPUI Sports Information

A rough bottom half of the second inning handed the Mastodons six runs on just four hits with two errors, as the gap narrowed to 7-6. That's when interim head coach Heather Tarter called upon Tharp, who promptly induced a weak grounder to the left side and then a fly ball to right to end the Fort Wayne rally.

Fiery fourth

The Jags reloaded and came out firing in the fourth inning. Patterson's leadoff double prompted another Mastodon pitching change. The Jags' power display was then complemented by heads-up base running. In a thrilling sequence, Good singled but made an aggressive attempt for second base, catching the defense off guard and forcing them to throw to the bag. With the attention on the advancing Good, Patterson made her way home. A fielding error brought Good home and put another runner in scoring position, as Thompson came up and launched a double through the middle that plated a pinch-running Delainey Turner.

Now up 10-6, Loge doubled to right center with two outs, scoring another run for the Jags. Matson singled to the infield, showing great hustle to beat out the throw. With runners at the corners, Chitwood doubled to score two, followed by a walk for Patterson and a three-run homer by Good to break the game wide open. Another inning, another crooked number. This put the Jags up 16-6, deflating any Mastodon challenge.

Four more runs came across in the top of the fifth inning as the Jags put away Fort Wayne in the bottom half to run-rule the home team. The victory secured the Jags' first-ever regular-season title. They're headed to the Summit League Tournament with the No. 1 seed, having never achieved higher than No. 3.

Up next

The Jags immediately boarded a bus bound for Fargo, North Dakota. They will partake in the Summit League banquet tonight, followed by opening tournament action Wednesday. With the top seed, the Jags will forego the opening single-elimination round and advance immediately to double-elimination.

For the latest news, scores, highlights and more, follow IUPUIJags.com.

Ben Ely is the sports information director for IUPUI Athletics.