Iowa Splits Doubleheader Against Wildcats
April 7, 2012
"I like how our team battled back in that second game," said UI head coach Marla Looper. "I also like how we took care of business early on in the first game."
Iowa's record now stands at 15-19 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play, while Northwestern is 15-20 overall and 3-5 in the conference.
Iowa used a five-run second inning to propel itself to game one victory. Senior Liz Watkins led off the inning being hit by a Meghan Lamberth pitch before being pinch run for by freshman Sydney Reynolds. Following a sacrifice bunt by freshman Tor Hawley to move Reynolds into scoring position, freshman Melanie Gladden delivered an RBI single up the middle to put Iowa up 1-0.
With two outs, juniors Johnnie Dowling and Ashley Akers reached via a walk and infield single before senior Katie Keim roped a three-run, bases clearing double down down the left field line to give the Hawkeyes the 5-0 advantage.
"Katie got a hold of a nice pitch, battled back and drove it down the line," said Looper. "To have the bases loaded before her on multiple walks, that bodes well for our offense because we're taking pitches, hitting strikes and taking balls."
The Wildcats got a pair of runs back in fourth and sixth innings. Consecutive doubles by Marisa Bast and Amy Letourneau plated NU's first run in the fourth before Mari Majam laced a solo home run to right centerfield in the sixth.
Junior Chelsea Lyon won her third straight start, allowing two runs on six hits in the complete game. She had four strikeouts to a single walk to improve to 8-10 on the year.
Starter Meghan Lamberth suffered the loss, allowing five runs on four hits in 1.2 innings. Letourneau threw 5.1 innings of hitless ball in relief, striking out six.
The second game was the game of the long ball, as the two squads combined for five home runs and 13 runs -- three by Northwestern and two by the Hawkeyes.
"Unfortunately, we let a couple of runners on when they got their big hits," said Looper. "I will give up a solo home run most days, and it is unfortunate when you have a runner or two on and then you give up the long ball.
"Our kids battled back and we got a few of them in that same token. You don't want to go up expecting to hit the long ball, but you love it when it does, especially with runners on."
Letourneau took the ball to start game two for the Wildcats, and she extended her hitless streak to eight innings before the Hawkeyes broke through. After freshman Megan Blank reached via a hit by pitch with two gone in the frame, Keim laced an RBI triple down the right field line to give Iowa the 1-0 lead.
The Hawkeyes then manufactured a run in the fourth inning to stretch its lead to 2-0. Akers drew a leadoff walk before stealing both second and third base. She then crossed the plate when sophomore Malloree Grove legged out an infield single with two outs.
Northwestern grabbed its first lead of the day in the bottom of the fourth inning. With two runners on right fielder Olivia Duehr connected on a towering three-run shot onto the roof of Welsh-Ryan Arena beyond the left field fence to give NU the 3-2 advantage.
The lead was short lived, however, as Iowa answered in the fifth. After Blank singled to open the inning, Keim blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to allow the Hawkeyes to regain the 4-3 advantage. It was Keim's team-leading fifth home run of the season.
NU struck back using a pair of two-run home runs in the bottom of the inning en route to taking a 7-4 lead. Adrienne Monka hit a two-run shot to centerfield to put the Wildcats up 5-4. Two batters later, Letourneau connected for the team's second two-run homer to centerfield to give NU a three-run advantage.
Iowa clawed back, pushing two runs across the plate in the sixth. Gladden connected on a solo home run -- her second of the season -- to lead off the frame. After Watkins reached via a hit by pitch, Blank laced an RBI double off the base of the center field wall to cut the deficit to 7-6.
Letourneau picked up her seventh victory of the season despite allowing six runs on seven hits over six innings. NU reliever Sammy Albanese pitched the seventh to notch her second save on the year.
Massey suffered the loss, allowing seven runs (six earned) in 4.1 innings. She had six strikeouts to zero walks in the contest.
Blank and Keim each tallied multi-hit games in game two. Blank went 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI, while Keim went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run.
Keim batted .429 during the doubleheader, going 3-for-7 with six RBI, finishing with a double, triple and home run for a 1.286 slugging percentage. Blank went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, and she reached base in each of her eight plate appearances, tallying four walks and a hit by pitch.
Iowa faces Northwestern in the rubber game of the three-game series Sunday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. (CT).
"We have to get back on that horse," said Looper. "We're going to see one of those three pitchers tomorrow, so it isn't going to be a big surprise. Our pitchers know what hitters we're going to face. We need to take control of it and take this series."