Feb. 5, 2014
LET'S PLAY BALL
The Hawkeyes open their 2014 season at the Carolina Classic, Feb. 7-9, in Columbia, S.C. Iowa will face UNC Greensboro and tournament host South Carolina on Friday, Feb. 7, Presbyterian on Saturday, Feb. 8, and conclude its weekend against Ohio on Sunday, Feb. 9.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Hawkeye softball fans can follow the Carolina Classic and scout the opponents through the tournament central page located on gamecocksonline.com. Iowa's game against South Carolina on Friday will be streamed live. Fans can follow all the action with live stats (Gametracker). The "GT" link can be accessed under the "Calendar" tab on the front page of hawkeyesports.com or on the softball schedule page. For in-game updates, follow @IowaSoftball on Twitter and "like" our official page on Facebook, facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball.
Iowa's game against UNC Greensboro is the first meeting between the two schools.
South Carolina leads Iowa in all-time meetings, 2-3. The Hawkeyes last defeated the Gamecocks, 1-0, on March 10, 1996.
Iowa's game against Presbyterian is the first meeting between the two schools.
Iowa's game against Ohio is the first meeting between the two schools.
Iowa received votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Preseason Poll released Jan. 28, 2014. The Big Ten had two teams appear in the top 25 -- No. 4 Michigan and No. 8 Nebraska -- while Wisconsin and Minnesota also received votes. The Hawkeyes were also ranked No. 40 in the country by College Sports Madness.
TAKING ON THE BEST
The 2014 UI schedule is full of quality opponents. The Hawkeyes will face No. 9/9 Nebraska three times, No. 10/10 Texas three times, No. 14/17 Missouri twice, and No. 16/18 Baylor and No. 21/25 UAB once. The Hawkeyes will also take on Wisconsin three times, Minnesota twice, and Arizona once -- all of which are receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll. In 2013, the Hawkeyes topped six ranked foes, including: No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette (13-10), No. 15 Stanford (7-6), No. 24 Oregon State (9-3), No. 11 Louisville (6-2), No. 21 Kentucky (3-1), and No. 19 Nebraska (6-2).
MEET THE HAWKEYES
This year's Hawkeye roster is comprised of three seniors -- Brianna Luna, Kayla Massey and Michelle Zoeller, junior Megan Blank, seven sophomores -- Erin Erickson, Micaela Whitney, Whitney Repole, Sammi Gyerman, Haley Hansel, Krystal Shirrell and Holly Hoffman, and six freshmen -- Alyssa Navarro, Claire Fritsch, Kaitlyn Mullarkey, Kara Misel, Shayla Starkenburg, and Michaela Johnson. Iowa is led by fourth-year head coach Marla Looper, assistants Adrianna Baggetta and Stacy May-Johnson, and volunteer assistant Chelsey Carmody.
Hawkeye junior Megan Blank appeared on the Top 50 Watch List for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year released on Jan. 29, 2014. The shortstop -- making the list for the first time in her career -- is one of seven student-athletes from the Big Ten and one of 20 juniors included in the Top 50. The list is narrowed to the Top 25 on April 9, the Top 10 on May 7, and the Top 3 on May 21. The 2014 Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be announced prior to the start of the Women's College World Series on May 27. The award, given by the National Governing Body for softball in the United States, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS RUNDOWN
College Sports Madness has recognized Iowa softball on several occasions this preseason. The Hawkeyes were named the No. 40 team in the country by the site on Jan. 9. College Sports Madness also recognized shortstop Megan Blank as a preseason first team All-Big Ten and preseason second team All-American in February.
HAWKEYES IN 2013
The University of Iowa softball team finished 30-24 overall in 2013, posting the most wins since finishing 42-16 in 2009. The Hawkeyes tied for ninth in the Big Ten with an 8-15 mark.
HAWKEYES JUST MISS 2013 NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Hawkeyes finished the regular season with an RPI of 33, and just missed the NCAA Tournament. Iowa was 39th in the final RPI -- the fifth-highest mark in the Big Ten.
A NEW BATTING LEADER
Megan Blank hit .437 in 2013, setting Iowa's single season batting average record. The previous record was .428, set by Kim Davis in 1993. Her career average is .413, also marking the highest in program history. Blank's 59 RBIs last year mark the second-highest single-season total in program history. Debbie Bilbao posted a school record 61 RBIs in 1997. Blank also belted 11 home runs in 2013 -- the third-highest single-season total.
BLANK INVITED TO 2013 USA NATIONAL TEAM SELECTION CAMP
Shortstop Megan Blank was invited to the 2013 USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Camp, held in Oklahoma City on June 10-12 at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex following her sophomore season. Blank was one of 32 athletes, and one of six sophomores, invited.
2013 FINAL LEAGUE RANKINGS
Megan Blank finished second in the Big Ten with a .437 batting average; third in RBIs (59), slugging percentage (.766) and on-base percentage (.552); fourth with 15 doubles, sixth with 121 total bases; seventh with 35 walks and ninth with 11 home runs.
Holly Hoffman ranked fourth in runners picked off (two) and runners caught stealing in league games only (eight).
Kayla Massey finished seventh with 199.1 innings pitched and eighth with 17 wins.
Micaela Whitney was fourth in games finished (12) and fifth in games in relief (14).
BLANK, DOWLING, MASSEY NAMED ALL-BIG TEN
Three members of the Iowa softball team earned All-Big Ten recognition in 2013. Megan Blank was named to the first team and Johnnie Dowling earned second team honors. Kayla Massey was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team at pitcher. The trio all earned All-Big Ten honors in 2012. Blank earned her second-straight first team accolade, becoming the sixth Hawkeye in program history to earn first team honors in each of her first two seasons. Massey was named first team all-league in 2012, while Dowling was named to the third team.
BLANK HONORED BY NFCA
Shortstop Megan Blank was named a 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) First Team All-Midwest Region selection, earning her second all-region honor in as many seasons. Blank is the sixth Hawkeye in program history to garner all-region honors in each of her first two seasons. She became the ninth player in program history to earn all-region recognition as a freshman, as she was named to the second team.
A RECORD ACADEMIC YEAR
Ten student-athletes were named to the 2013 spring Academic All-Big Ten team. The softball program's 10 honorees are a school record. The team's previous best was seven in both 1994 and 1995. Ashley Akers, Johnnie Dowling, Nikki Gentile, Mallorree Grove, Steviee Grove, Tor Hawley, Chelsea Lyon, Sam Valentine, Bradi Wall and Michelle Zoeller were all named Academic All-Big Ten.
B1G TOURNEY RETURNS IN 2013
The Big Ten Tournament returned in 2013 for the first time since 2008. The Hawkeyes have claimed two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003) and won 21 games in the event all-time -- the second most of any team. The conference tournament was discontinued from 2009-12. In 2013, Iowa fell to Ohio State, in the first round at Bowlin Stadium, 8-4, in Lincoln, Neb. The Hawkeyes held a 4-1 advantage moving to the bottom of the fifth before the Buckeyes plated six runs to rally for the victory.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Megan Blank batted .436 in 2013, setting the new single-season school batting average record. The previous school record was .428, set by Kim Davis in 1993. The junior's career average is .413. The school record is .409, set by Lea Twigg (1996-97).
Blank posted 59 RBIs in 2013 -- the second-highest total in school history. Debbie Bilbao posted a school record 61 RBIs in 1997.
Blank belted 11 home runs in 2013 -- the third-highest single-season total.
Kayla Massey is eighth all-time with 65 complete games heading into her senior season.
A LOOK BACK: SOLID START IN HOUSTON
Iowa opened its 2013 campaign in Houston, Texas, Feb. 8-10, at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic, hosted by the University of Houston. The Hawkeyes finished with a 3-2 mark, earning wins over Texas State (5-4), host Houston (4-1), and No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette (13-10). Iowa dropped its season opener to Lipscomb (4-0) and the tournament finale to the Cajuns (11-0). The win over the Cajuns marked Iowa's first over a ranked opponent since it defeated No. 23 Oklahoma State last year, 5-3, on March 3. No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette is the highest-ranked team the Hawkeyes have defeated since winning at No. 1 Michigan on April, 23, 2011.
Iowa has made four Women's College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history, and the four WCWS appearances equal the second most in conference history. The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships (1989, 1997, 2000, 2003) and two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003).
Iowa travels to Waco, Texas to compete in the Getterman Classic next weekend, Feb. 14-16. The Hawkeyes will challenge Lipscomb and East Carolina on Friday, Feb. 14, UAB and host Baylor on Saturday, Feb. 15, and close play with a single game against instate foe Drake on Sunday, Feb. 16.