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Rutgers softball returns home to face Indiana

Junior shortstop Kyleigh Sand leads the Rutgers softball team with a .382 batting average this season. – Photo by Steve Hockstein /

The Rutgers softball team will be back at the Rutgers Softball Complex on Livingston campus this weekend to take on Indiana for a three-day series. The Scarlet Knights (30-17, 7-7) are looking to get back on their feet after being swept by Penn State last weekend.

Rutgers had a difficult weekend against the Nittany Lions (24-13, 5-9). The Knights were only able to score runs during the last game of the series, but it was not enough to win.

Last weekend, the Hoosiers (31-15, 9-5) were swept by Nebraska, who grabbed three wins off of Indiana during the weekend matchups.

The Hoosiers hold a team batting average of .319 which puts them second in the Big Ten in that category. Their batting average overlooks that of Rutgers, as the Knights hit for a team average of .292, placing them fourth in the conference.

Indiana's Taryn Kern has the highest batting average on her team, with a .417 success rate with the bat. She has hit a conference-leading 18 home runs this season and a team-high 48 hits. Indiana's Taylor Minnick follows closely behind Kern, batting for a .405 average. Both players are in the Big Ten's top five for batting average.

Rutgers' top two hitters are junior shortstop Kyleigh Sand and junior pitcher Morgan Smith. Sand bats for a .382 average, followed by Smith, who bats .331.

The Hoosiers have several key pitchers to be on the lookout for this weekend against the Knights. Indiana's Brianna Copeland has been the team's best pitcher so far this season. The pitcher has thrown for a 3.18 earned run average (ERA) and a 15-2 win-loss ratio. Copeland has a strong reputation, as she has 111 strikeouts and a 1.34 walks and hits through innings pitched rate (WHIP).

Indiana's Heather Johnson is also a potential pitcher this weekend. She holds a 4.15 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. In total, the Hoosiers pitchers have a 4.19 ERA, which is the second-highest in the Big Ten and is something the cold Rutgers bats can hopefully gain momentum from.

Graduate student pitcher Jaden Vickers has been the Knights' strongest pitcher. Vickers has a 2.65 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 76 strikeouts. She will once again try to make her mark in the pitcher's circle this weekend.

Rutgers has struggled with batting throughout its last few games. The Knights hope to increase their batting average and winning percentage with a home-field advantage this weekend. The last time Rutgers played at home, it defeated Maryland in both games during a doubleheader.

The weekend-long series against the Knights and the Hoosiers will begin at 3 p.m. this afternoon at the Rutgers Softball Complex. The second game will be played at 3 p.m. tomorrow and conclude at 1 p.m. on Sunday. All games can be followed throughout the course of the weekend on Big Ten Plus.

For more updates on the Rutgers softball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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