Hawkeyes Win at No. 11 Louisville, 6-2
March 18, 2013
LOUISVILLE -- The University of Iowa softball team won at No. 11 Louisville on Monday, 6-2, handing the Cardinals their first home loss during the regular season since April 13, 2011, in a streak that spanned 37 games. The Hawkeyes also ended Louisville's 11-game winning streak and captured their fourth victory over a top-25 opponent (No. 11 Louisville, No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 15 Stanford, No. 24 Oregon State).
Iowa, winner of 9-of-11 overall, dropped a 7-5 decision to Ball State in the first game of the day. The contests were held at Ulmer Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville.
"We came out and we were aggressive in that second game," said UI head coach Marla Looper. "We did a nice job of attacking early -- putting three runs up in the first inning. We put another three spot up in the sixth."
In the second game against No. 11 Louisville (23-4), Iowa started with a bang, posting three runs in its first at-bat. Johnnie Dowling opened with an infield single. After Megan Blank walked and Holly Hoffman singled, Kayla Massey launched a deep shot off the fence in left center to move all runners up a base. Brianna Luna and Michelle Zoeller followed with back-to-back RBI singles to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
The three runs would be enough in the end for Massey. The Hawkeye starter earned her fifth-straight victory to move to 8-4 on the season. The junior allowed two first-inning runs and four hits throughout en route to her 11th complete game in 12 starts.
"Kayla was pretty consistent, getting a lot of groundball outs," said Looper. "We attacked the ball offensively and defensively, and that is how we earned the victory."
After four scoreless innings, the Hawkeye offense struck again with its second three-run inning. Luna doubled to center to open the sixth and scored on an RBI single by Dowling. Bradi Wall singled to left field and Blank followed with Iowa's second double of the inning to center to plate both runners and push Iowa's lead to 6-2.
Iowa (18-7) chased Louisville starter Rachel LeCoq after a third of an inning. She allowed three earned runs on five hits to fall to 9-2.
Luna paced the Hawkeyes, tallying her first career three-hit game. The junior finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Dowling added her 10th multi-hit contest of the year, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Blank extended her hitting streak to 11 games.
In the opener, Ball State struck first with an RBI double in the second. Iowa, the designated visiting team, answered with three runs in the following frame. With Ashley Akers at second base, Wall, who ranks sixth nationally in hit-by-pitches, was plunked for the 13th time. Blank stepped in and singled to center, scoring both runners. With two away, Massey smacked a double to left center to score Blank and give Iowa a 3-1 advantage.
The Cardinals (13-10) responded with a three-run frame of their own in the bottom of the third to regain the lead at 4-3, and added a single tally in the fourth to push their advantage to 5-3.
The Hawkeyes took advantage of a Ball State error in the fifth to score a run and cut the lead to 5-4. The Cardinals used a two-out infield single to score a runner from third and regain a two-run advantage in the bottom half at 6-4.
Akers crossed home plate for a second time in the top of the sixth on a wild third strike to cut the Ball State lead to 6-5. The Cardinals used an inning-ending double play to work out of the jam and added a single tally in the bottom half to make the final 7-5.
Starter Chelsea Lyon took the loss. The senior tossed six innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits and six walks.
Blank and Akers led the offensive effort. Blank posted her ninth multi-hit game and reached base in every at-bat, finishing 2-for-2 with two runs, two walks and two RBIs. Akers registered her second multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with two runs.
"I am proud of how we turned it around," said Looper. "We did not start the day off very well. We did a nice job of coming out and attacking Louisville in the second game. They are a quality ball club -- very well respected by us and everyone across the country.
"We have to focus on us, and that is exactly what we did. We were the aggressor."
The Hawkeyes continue action on Tuesday at Ulmer Stadium, facing Louisville for a second time at 3 p.m. (CT).