Hawkeyes Keep Rolling, Win 4 in a Row
Feb. 16, 2013
DENTON, Texas -- The University of Iowa softball team continued action Saturday in the Lovelace Invitational, sweeping Nebraska-Omaha, 2-1, and host North Texas, 4-1. The Hawkeyes used stellar pitching performances from senior Chelsea Lyon and junior Kayla Massey, and timely hitting, to stay undefeated (4-0) in the Lovelace Invite. The games were held at Lovelace Stadium on the campus of the University of North Texas.
"Overall, I am proud of the kids for going out and getting two wins today," said UI head coach Marla Looper. "There are some things we need to work on, but we earned two victories."
Iowa (7-2) has won four straight games, and 7-of-8 overall. The Hawkeyes are off to their best start under Looper, who is in her third season.
Iowa opened the scoring in the second game, plating a run in the first frame. Johnnie Dowling led things off with a single down the left field line. With one away, Megan Blank singled down the left field line, placing runners at first and second. A wild pitch moved both runners up a base. Brianna Luna then dropped down a beautiful squeeze bunt, scoring Dowling from third.
North Texas ended Massey's attempt at a no-hitter in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run to left center, evening the game up at 1-1.
Massey answered at the plate, launching a solo shot of her own over the fence in right with two down in the sixth to give Iowa a one-run advantage again at 2-1. The long ball was the first of her career.
Luna came up to bat in another key spot in the seventh inning. With two out and Bradi Wall at third and Blank at second, she roped a solid single to left to bring home both insurance runs and push the Iowa lead to 4-1.
Massey tossed another gem, allowing the lone run on two hits in seven innings. She registered her fourth complete game in her fifth start of the season, while equaling a career-best with nine strikeouts.
Massey added three hits, finishing a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI and run scored. Blank recorded her fourth multi-hit game of the year, finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored. Luna went 1-for-3 with three RBIs.
Iowa handed Nebraska-Omaha (8-1) its first loss of the season in the opening game. The Hawkeyes struck first in the opener. Dowling started the frame with a single to third. Wall replaced Dowling at first after a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a groundout by Blank. Luna walked, placing runners at first and second. Holly Hoffman stepped to the dish, launching a two-run double off the left center wall to give Iowa a 2-0 advantage.
The home team maintained its two-run lead heading to the final frame, after five scoreless innings. With one down, Nebraska-Omaha used a single, a walk, and a fielder's choice to load the bases. Allie Mathewson singled up the middle to move runners up a base and cut the Hawkeye lead to 2-1. Lyon then worked out of the jam, getting a pop out and groundout to end it.
Lyon was spectacular, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings. She struck out five Mavericks. Lyon moves to 3-0 on the season, notching her third complete game in four appearances. Massey and Lyon combined to allow two runs on six hits in the second day of the tournament.
"Our pitchers in the circle did a great job," said Looper. "Kayla did a great job in the second game and Chelsea was great in the opener. It is nice when the pitchers are settling in and get right after hitters; it makes the defense relax a little bit and be able to play their game."
Dana Elsasser took the loss, her first of the season (5-1). Elsasser, who entered the game with a 0.64 ERA, allowed two runs on nine Hawkeye hits.
Iowa concludes play in the Lovelace Invitational against Oklahoma State on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. (CT). The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowgirls on Friday, 3-1, in eight innings.
"Offensively, the timing is going to come around and the adjustments will come quicker," said Looper. "It is nice to come out with two wins today.
"We need to come out and be aggressive tomorrow. We have in the last two games; we came out and scored early, and then we sat back. We need to continue to be the aggressor. We have to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday and today. We have to be the aggressor and play Hawkeye softball."