GRAYSON PRATHER | STAFF REPORTER
The Butler University softball team will return home today to face Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis for the second time this year at IUPUI at 4 p.m.
Head coach Scott Hall said he sees IUPUI as a strong program and knows how good it is.
“They are a very solid team,” Hall said. “Coach Rivera’s got his kids playing hard, and they are really rolling. They are having a good year so far.”
After IUPUI beat the Bulldogs 8-3 on Feb. 21 earlier this year, senior Kristen Boros said she sees the Jaguars as a rival.
“They’re kind of like our rival,” Boros said. “We play them a lot. And their program has gotten better each year, just like ours has. IUPUI used to be this small team that was kind of the easy game of the season, but they have been getting better and better each year.”
Boros reflected on the time since they played IUPUI, and said the Bulldogs have grown immensely since that first meeting.
“I think we made some mental mistakes in our game against them,” Boros said. “And that’s why they scored a lot on us. I think we have learned a lot from the past couple games. From Florida on, we’ve learned a lot. We have made a lot of adjustments, and we are finally on the groove.”
Hall said he also sees their last matchup with IUPUI as a learning experience in preparation for tonight.
“We have got to not beat ourselves,” Hall said. “I think pitching really hurt us last game, so we have got to do a better job of staying out of big innings.”
Boros also knows how important pitching is. She has been able to experience how strong pitching strengthens other aspects of the game.
“Our pitchers have really stepped up, which allows everyone to be confident just from that,” Boros said. “Our pitchers are hitting their spots amazingly. They are striking batters out. They are not giving a lot of free bases to them. So that just helps the defense [be] confident in their abilities to back up our pitchers when we get balls. And then by having the confidence in the field, we take that to our at-bats. So it’s kind of just a chain reaction.”
After playing IUPUI tonight, the Bulldogs will turn their eyes to this weekend.
If the weather permits, Butler will have its first home series of the year with St. John’s University. There is a doubleheader on March 28 and a series finale on March 29.
Boros said she sees that having self-confidence and the ability to fight is what they need to do to be successful.
“As a team, we have just been able to fight,” Boros said. “We get down in runs, and teams are beating us, but we don’t get down on ourselves. We keep fighting and every at-bat is a new kind of game.”
The players and coaches said they, similar to Hall, are excited for the team to be playing in Indianapolis again to remove the distraction of traveling.
“It’s going to be fun,” Hall said. “It will be fun to be home. We’ve been on the road for almost 15 games, so it will be nice to get home. It is less stressful on the kids. We get to sleep in our own beds [and] eat normal food.”