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Hawkeyes Drop Home Opener to Bulldogs
Luna, Fritsch went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Hawkeyes at Pearl Field
Claire Fritsch (pictured above) and Brianna Luna led the way for the Hawkeye offense, going 3-for-4 at the plate in the game. Fritsch drove in one run and doubled once.
Claire Fritsch (pictured above) and Brianna Luna led the way for the Hawkeye offense, going 3-for-4 at the plate in the game. Fritsch drove in one run and doubled once.
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April 2, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa softball team fell to instate foe Drake, 5-3, in its home opener at Pearl Field on Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes are now 1-1 against Drake this season, as they defeated the Bulldogs, 9-0 in six innings, on Feb. 16.

With tonight's loss, Iowa drops to 9-16 overall. Drake (8-22) earned its eighth win of the season.

After a scoreless first inning, Drake erased the zero in its scoring column. A Laura Brewer single and a Jordan Gronewald walk put two runners on base with one away. Rebekah Schmidt came through with a double to plate the first run of the contest.

After another walk was issued to Ashlie Chambers, Amy Pierce used a single to bring home two more before Iowa could end the inning with a Megan Blank to Holly Hoffman fielder's choice at home and a fly out.

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 4-0 in the top of the third. An error and a Brewer single to right put a pair on base, and Schmidt delivered once again, hitting an RBI double. The hit forced Hawkeye starting pitcher Shayla Starkenburg from the circle, but Kayla Massey closed the inning with a pair of swinging strikeouts.

The Iowa offense ruined the Bulldog shutout bid in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs on two hits. Brianna Luna and Claire Fritsch ripped back-to-back doubles to start the inning and post the first Hawkeye run. After Fritsch advanced to third on an illegal pitch, Blank brought her home with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to two runs, 4-2.

Following a scoreless fourth, the Hawkeyes scored again in the bottom of the fifth to get within one run of the Bulldogs, 4-3. Fritsch opened the frame with a single, stole second to reach scoring position and came home on a Blank single through the right side. Consecutive passed balls moved Blank up to third base, but Drake forced a groundout to end the rally.

Three Bulldog singles added the fifth run for Drake and the final run of the contest in the top of the sixth inning. Neither team reached the scoring column in the top of the seventh, solidifying the 5-3 final victory for Drake.

"We left too many on first of all, and we started a lot of our activity with two outs," head coach Marla Looper said. "It's hard to manufacture anything with two outs. We can do it, but we have to drive balls in the gaps instead of bunt-and-run or steal. Unfortunately, we put ourselves in a hole tonight."

Starkenburg (3-4) took the loss in the circle for Iowa. She gave up four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in her 2.1 innings pitched. Massey threw the final 4.2 innings and held the Bulldogs to one run and struck out five. Schmidt (7-10) earned the win for Drake. She struck out three and held the Hawkeyes to five hits and one run in her five innings of work.

Luna and Fritsch led the Hawkeye offense going 3-for-4 at the plate. Both registered a double in the contest, while Fritsch added an RBI.

"They started us off hot, the way we needed them to be," Looper said. "We should have that when we win ball games, but we left them stranded. We swung at some bad pitches to get outs unfortunately and that hurts us. We've got to be better in those next few spots to move them and advance them."

Blank (1-for-2), Hoffman (1-for-2) and Kaitlyn Mullarkey (1-for-2) also added hits for the Hawkeyes. Blank paced the team with two RBIs.

UI softball continues its home stretch with a three-game Big Ten series against No. 23 Northwestern, April 4-6. The series opens with a 6 p.m. (CT) contest Friday, continues with a 2 p.m. game Saturday and ends with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.

 Drake 5, Iowa 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
 Drake (8-22) 0 3 1 0 0 1 0 5 9 0
 Iowa (9-16) 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 3 9 3
 Game Decision
 W:  Schmidt (DU) 7-10
 L:  Starkenburg (IOWA)  3-4

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