Feb. 7, 2012
ON THE WEB
Fans can follow the action at hawkeyesports.com, where live stats (Gametracker) will be available. The live "GT" can be found under the calendar tab on the right-hand side of the hawkeyesports.com home page, or on the softball schedule page.
Fans can listen to the Iowa-Baylor game on Feb. 10 free of charge at www.baylorbears.com.
Hawkeye fans can follow the University of Iowa softball team on the social media platforms Twitter (@iowasoftball) and Facebook (facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball).
Wichita State returns 10 letterwinners and six starters from a team that went 20-37 overall and 12-15 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Infielder Hayley Temple is the Shockers top offensive returnee, hitting .301 with 26 RBI as a sophomore. Wichita State also returns pitchers Katie Armagost and Sloan Anderson. Armagost went 8-13 with a 3.75 ERA, while Anderson was 6-7 with a 4.44 ERA in 129.1 innings. The Shockers are led by first-year head coach Kristi Bredbenner.
Baylor, which returns 11 letterwinners and eight starters, enters the season ranked seventh in both preseason polls after posting a 47-15 overall record and advancing to the semifinals of the 2011 Women's College World Series. The Bears, who were picked to finish fourth this season in the Big 12, have two players -- Whitney Canion and Kathy Shelton -- named to the "Watch List" for the 11th annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Canion, a 2011 second team All-American, went 39-12 with a 1.28 ERA and 339 strikeouts in 278.2 innings. Shelton was a unanimous first team All-Big 12 honoree after leading the Bears in batting average (.359), runs (35), hits (74) and steals (33).
Arkansas returns 12 letterwinners from a team that went 13-39 overall and 3-23 in the Southeastern Conference a season ago. The Razorbacks added 11 newcomers to their 2012 roster.
Texas-Arlington had four players selected to the preseason All-Southland Conference team. Callie Collins, the defending Pitcher of the Year, was tabbed as a first team selection after winning 18 games with a 1.60 ERA last season. She had 197 strikeouts in 188.1 innings pitched. Charne Office (OF), Courtney Enocksen (SS) and Taylor Zink (3B) were preseason second team selections.
Belmont returns 13 letterwinners from a squad that went 11-38 overall and 4-16 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bruins also added five newcomers their roster.
Iowa is 6-8 all-time against the field of the 2012 Getterman Classic.
The Hawkeyes are 3-1 all-time against Wichita State. It is the first game against the Shockers since 1989. Iowa is 0-1 against Baylor, 1-4 against Arkansas and 2-2 against Texas-Arlington. It will be the first ever meeting between Iowa and Belmont.
Iowa will get an early season opportunity against a top 10 team when it faces seventh-ranked Baylor. Last season, the Hawkeyes went 1-6 against ranked foes with their lone win coming at No. 1 Michigan (4-2) on April 23.
WATKINS EARNS PRESEASON NOD
Senior Liz Watkins earned Big Ten Preseason All-Conference selection by College Sports Madness. The catcher earned second team recognition after starting all 51 games and finishing with a .294 batting average with 36 RBI, 28 runs and nine home runs as a junior.
HAWKEYES RETURN TWO ALL-BIG TEN SELECTIONS
Seniors Katie Keim and Liz Watkins return to lead the Hawkeyes after garnering All-Big Ten recognition in 2011. Keim was a third team selection after hitting .282 with 13 runs scored, 10 RBI and four home runs in league action. Watkins earned her third career all-league nod after hitting .319 during Big Ten play.
DO I KNOW YOU?
The Hawkeyes have 10 new faces on the 2012 roster, including five freshman and five transfer students. Iowa's roster is full of youth, as 11-of-the-20 players are underclassmen.
OPPOSING BASERUNNERS BEWARE
Senior Liz Watkins threw out half of opposing base runners during the 2011 season. She gunned down 21-of-42 would-be base stealers. It was a drastic jump, as Watkins threw out 14 in her first two seasons as a Hawkeye (eight in 2009, six in 2010).
IOWA'S 1-2 PUNCH
The Hawkeyes return the two pitchers that hurled every inning for the team in 2011. Junior Chelsea Lyon and sophomore Kayla Massey both tossed 169.1 innings for Iowa. Lyon finished with team highs in wins (15) and strikeouts (120), while Massey had 12 victories and team-bests in ERA (3.22) and shutouts (3).
Head coach Marla Looper has two more pitchers at her disposal in 2012. Freshman Melanie Gladden and sophomore Brittanee Grove will give the Hawkeyes pitching options. Grove posted a 28-8 record with nine shutouts and three no-hitters as a senior at Konawa High School in Oklahoma. Grove, a transfer from Creighton University, gives Iowa a southpaw look out of the bullpen.
UP THE MIDDLE
The Hawkeyes will have two newcomers up the middle in 2012. Freshman Megan Blank is set to take over the reigns of the shortstop position, while junior college transfer Bradi Wall is sliding into the second base position. Senior Katie Keim, who made 48 starts at second base in 2011, is moving to first base.
2/3 OF OUTFIELD IN TACT
The Hawkeyes return two of their three outfield starters in juniors Ashley Akers and Johnnie Dowling. Akers is expected to move to left field after starting 41 games in center field as a sophomore. Dowling will move back to center after starting the 2011 season in the same position.
DOWLING MAKES THE MOVE
At the plate, junior Johnnie Dowling made the transition from a right-handed hitter to a left-handed slapper following the 2011 season to utilize her speed. The Des Moines, Iowa, native hit .216 with five home runs as a sophomore.
WALL STILL GROWING
The 2012 season will be junior Bradi Wall's third year playing softball. Growing up, she played baseball and parlayed that experience into two appearances for the Canadia National Baseball Team. The last two years Wall played softball at Iowa Western Community College, where she earned All-America recognition after batting .458 with 32 doubles.
THE GROVE TRIO REUNITED
The Grove triplets -- Brittanee, Malloree and Steviee -- will be reunited as teammates on the 2012 Iowa softball team. Brittanee and Malloree played their freshman seasons at Creighton University, while Steviee was a catcher at Indiana State.
MAY-JOHNSON AND TEAM USA
UI assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson was selected as the 2011 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year. She earned the honor after helping Team USA to gold medals at the World Cup of Softball VII and the Pan American Games. May-Johnson batted a team-best .418 with team highs in home runs (six), runs (26) and RBI (36). She will play for the Red, White and Blue again in 2012.
NOT BACKING DOWN
The Hawkeyes will face a difficult schedule in 2012, squaring off against 14 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. Five of those teams participated in the Women's College World Series, including 2011 national champion Arizona State.
ON THE GO
The Hawkeyes will play their first 26 games away from Iowa City before making their Pearl Field debut March 24 against Wisconsin. Iowa will rack up the frequent flier miles, as it will log nearly 5,500 miles (5,413) with trips to Waco, Texas, Palm Springs, Calif., Oklahoma City, Fullerton, Calif., and Columbia, Mo.
Iowa has made four Women's College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and it has played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history.
The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships and two Big Ten Tournament titles.