Iowa Wins at No. 21 Kentucky, Earns 5th Top-25 Victory
March 20, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The University of Iowa softball team won at No. 21 Kentucky, 3-1, on Wednesday. The Hawkeyes used a complete game from starter Kayla Massey and timely hitting to earn the road victory. The contest was held at the UK Softball Complex on the campus of the University of Kentucky.
"I was proud of the girls today," said UI head coach Marla Looper. "The weather was not ideal. We jumped on them early. We have talked about being the aggressor -- getting ahead, scoring runs throughout, and finishing -- we did exactly that today."
The Hawkeyes (19-8) earned their second victory of the week over a top-25 opponent. Iowa won at 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 notched their fifth victory over a top-25 opponent (No. 11 Louisville, No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 15 Stanford, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 24 Oregon State).
"We tried to schedule a tough nonconference slate," said Looper. "The team has done a nice job against tough opponents."
The visitors scored the game's first run in their opening at-bat. Johnnie Dowling coaxed a leadoff walk and swiped second base. Megan Blank stepped in with one away, and launched a double to left center to score Dowling and give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
The Hawkeyes added to their lead in the second. Michelle Zoeller opened the inning with a solid single to left. With two outs and Zoeller on third, Ashley Akers singled to score Zoeller and give Iowa a two-run advantage.
The Wildcats (20-8) pushed across a run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Hawkeye lead to 2-1.
Iowa added a key insurance run in the top of the seventh to regain a two-run advantage at 3-1. Akers opened the frame with a solid single through the left side. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Dowling. Bradi Wall was hit by a pitch -- her conference-leading 15th of the season. With two on and one away, Blank delivered again, lifting an RBI single down the line in left.
Massey shut down the Wildcats in the seventh with a perfect frame. The junior earned the victory, registering her 12th complete game in 13 starts. She won her sixth-straight decision, allowing one run on four hits.
Blank, Zoeller and Akers finished with multi-hit games to pace the offense. Blank went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, posting her 10th multi-hit game of the season. Zoeller finished 2-for-3 with a run scored, recording five hits total in the last two games combined. Akers went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Iowa opens its home slate and Big Ten schedule this weekend against Minnesota at Pearl Field. The opener is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday. The two league foes will also meet at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.