Big 8th Inning Lifts Iowa Over Oklahoma State
Feb. 15, 2013
DENTON, Texas -- The University of Iowa softball team downed Oklahoma State, 3-1, in dramatic fashion in its second game of the Lovelace Invitational on Friday afternoon. The Hawkeyes scored three runs in the top of the eighth to earn the victory in their first extra-inning contest of the season. The game was held at Lovelace Stadium on the campus of the University of North Texas.
"When you get into extra innings against a quality ball club like Oklahoma State, and you can punch one across, it is nice," said UI head coach Marla Looper. "We were able to put three (runs) up. It gives your defense a chance to relax. It is great to come out with this victory."
Iowa moves to 5-2 overall, after defeating Dayton earlier in the day, 3-0. The Hawkeyes have won five of their last six overall.
Both teams squandered scoring chances to open the game. The Hawkeyes stranded runners at the corners in the first and left the bases loaded in the third. Iowa stranded freshman Haley Hansel at third base in the fourth and senior Johnnie Dowling at third in the fifth. Freshman Holly Hoffman laced a solid single through the left side in the sixth, but was left at first.
The Hawkeyes broke through in the first extra inning. The tiebreaker rule was in play during the tournament, placing a runner at second base to open the inning. Junior Malloree Grove pinch ran for Iowa. Sophomore Megan Blank cleared the bases, launching her third home of the season over the center field fence, giving the visiting team a 2-0 lead. Blank's long ball eclipsed her total from a year ago, when she tallied two.
"We had runners on quite a bit throughout the game," said Looper. "Unfortunately, we did not execute early. When we had the opportunity to start with a runner on second and no outs, (Megan) Blank come up with a clutch two-run home run. We continued hitting and getting more runners across the plate. You like to end it that way."
Iowa did not stop there. Junior Michelle Zoeller singled to center and Hoffman followed with a single down the left field line. Starting pitcher Kayla Massey followed, roping a single down the line in left to score Zoeller and extend the Hawkeye advantage to 3-0.
Oklahoma State pushed across a single tally in the bottom half, but it was too little, too late against Massey. Massey allowed zero earned runs while giving up six hits. The junior struck out three Cowgirls en route to her third complete game of the season in four appearances.
"It was a much better outing by both of those pitchers today," said Looper. "Kayla did a nice job getting groundball outs, left and right. She allowed our defense to play, and that is what she is good at. She even played a lot of defense today, getting a lot of her own groundballs."
Massey and senior Chelsea Lyon combined to allow zero earned runs in 15 innings during Iowa's victories over Dayton and Oklahoma State on the opening day of the tournament.
"Both pitchers were solid," said Looper. "They reduced their walks quite a bit and let the defense play ball. We gave ourselves a chance to win; keeping the ball in the infield, playing solid defense, and pounding the strike zone."
Kat Espinosa took the loss for the Cowgirls. She tossed eight innings, allowing three runs on eight hits.
Iowa continues action Saturday in the Lovelace Invitational in Denton, Texas. The Hawkeyes face Nebraska-Omaha at 2 p.m., before facing host North Texas at 4:30 p.m.