May 9, 2009
IOWA CITY - Senior Brittany Weil became Iowa's single-season strikeout leader and Head Coach Gayle Blevins moved into second place on the NCAA Division I softball wins list, as the Hawkeyes swept Minnesota, 2-0 and 3-0, Saturday in the final regular season weekend of the 2009 season. The Hawkeyes finish this year's regular season campaign with a 42-14 overall mark and a 13-7 Big Ten record, which is good enough for a fourth place finish. Iowa could jump into a third place tie with Northwestern, if Wisconsin is able to defeat the Wildcats Saturday night.
Weil added yet another record to her already impressive playing resume at Iowa, shattering Lisa Birocci's previous record of 313 single-season strikeouts. Weil fanned the first two batters in the fourth inning to tie, and break, the single-season strikeout mark.
Weil, who threw two complete game shutouts Saturday afternoon, also moved into a tie for first place in career wins (99), complete games (109) and games pitched (181) at Iowa. Her two shutouts also put her in a tie for third in that career category at Iowa.
The Garden Grove, CA, native tossed a complete game in the first contest, giving up just five hits with 11 strikeouts. She followed with an impressive performance in game two, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning, before the Golden Gophers broke it up with a single. She gave up just two hits in the second contest, with nine strikeouts and only one walk. Her 20 total K's on the day move her single-season record mark to 328, and her Iowa career-record total to 1,072.
"Today was a great day for the seniors to end the regular season," Weil said. "We won our last four games at Pearl Field, which is such a special place. Records don't mean anything if you don't have great teammates and coaches to share them with. I am very thankful to have played in front of the fans at Pearl Field, but we still have a lot of softball left to play this season. Hopefully, some of those games in the NCAA Tournament will be at home."
Blevins picked up career win No. 1,219 Saturday, putting her alone in second place on the all-time wins list in NCAA softball history. Blevins passed former Florida State Head Coach JoAnne Graf, who collected 1,218 wins in her 24-year coaching career. Blevins added win No. 1,220 in game two against the Golden Gophers. Fresno State Head Coach Margie Wright is in first place on the list, with 1,340 wins entering the weekend.
"When you talk about these wins, it just makes you realize how many amazing people you have met through the sport," Blevins said. "I have been very fortunate to have worked with great coaches and student-athletes. The University of Iowa is a very special place, and I am just happy to be a Hawkeye."
Junior Katie Brown was Iowa's offense in the first game, belting two solo home runs for the lone Iowa runs. Brown was responsible for two of Iowa's three hits, with freshman Katie Keim adding the other.
Brown gave Iowa an early 1-0 lead in the second inning of game one. With a 25 mile-per-hour wind blowing out to right field, Brown lifted a ball that carried over the right field fence for a solo home run. The round-tripper was Brown's sixth of the season.
Weil worked her magic with the bases loaded in the fourth, getting Iowa out of a tough spot. After Weil struck out the first two batters of the frame to both tie and break the single season strikeout record, Minnesota managed a single sandwiched between two walks to load the bases with two outs. Weil then took care of things herself, striking out Colleen Conway to end the inning.
Brown doubled Iowa's lead in familiar fashion in the fourth, belting her seventh home run of the season, this time to left field, for a 2-0 Hawkeye lead.
In game two, Iowa plated the only runs of the contest in the bottom of the third. Keim started the inning with a double, followed by back-to-back infield singles by senior Sam Heinzman and sophomore Chelsey Carmody to load the bases with no outs. Keim scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch for a 1-0 Hawkeye advantage. Later in the inning, with runners on second and third, Brown hit a slow grounder to second, and Heinzman hustled home from third. Heinzman was ruled safe on a close play at the plate, due to catcher obstruction. Brown then noticed the Minnesota defense left second base unoccupied, and in a heads up baserunning move, forced a rundown. Carmody, who had moved to third base, recognized the pickle and slid across home for the third run.
Iowa will now wait for the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament Selection Show, which will air Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. All 64 teams, including the top 16 national seeds, and regional locations, will be revealed during the selection show.
"It would be great if we were selected to host a regional," Blevins said. "But our ultimate goal is to play in the College World Series this season. If that road starts in Iowa City, that would be great. If not, we will hit the road and try our hardest to make it to Oklahoma City."