Hawkeyes Win Big Ten Home Opener
April 9, 2011
After the Spartans pushed a run across the plate in their opening at-bat, the Hawkeyes plated five runs in the first two innings to take control of the contest. Junior Katie Keim opened the game with a walk before Ashley Akers reached on an infield single to put two runners on. Freshman Brianna Luna was then hit by a pitch with one out to load the bases.
Junior Liz Watkins put Iowa on top 2-1 when she muscled a single to right field to knock in Keim and Akers. With two outs, freshman Nikki Gentile followed with a hard grounder to second base where Spartan second baseman Jenny Ramsaier booted the ball allowing two more Hawkeye runs to cross the plate.
Iowa pushed in its final run in the bottom of the second inning. Freshman Michelle Zoeller led off the frame with a single up the middle before coming around to score on Johnnie Dowling's RBI triple into the right centerfield gap.
Michigan State cut its deficit in half in the top of the third inning on a two-run home run to left field. Lindsey Hansen drew a one-out walk to get on base before Brett Williams connected on a 2-0 pitch for a two-run long ball over the left field fence.
The Hawkeyes were in a position to put some distance between themselves and Michigan State in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with zero outs. Spartan starter Cassee Layne, however, pitched her way out of the jam, getting two infield flies and a groundout to end the threat.
Michigan State threatened in its final at-bat, advancing runners to second and third base with two outs. Iowa hurler Kayla Massey put the game away when she got Williams to foul out to Watkins to end the contest.
"It (getting the foul out) was huge... it came against the player that hit the home run earlier," said UI head coach Marla Looper. "The fact that she made sure she caught it and didn't let the fence take it, is big. It was vital that she caught that."
Massey scattered five hits in the complete game victory, finishing with three strikeouts. The win improved her record to 10-5 on the year.
Zoeller paced the team at the plate, going 2-for-3 to collect two of the team's five hits. Watkins finished 1-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored to go along with two walks.
Iowa (20-15, 3-2) hosts the Spartans in the series finale tomorrow morning at Pearl Field. First pitch was moved up to 11 a.m. due to the weather forecast in the Iowa City area.