Hawkeyes Set for Littlewood Classic - Hawkeye Sports Official Athletic Site
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Hawkeyes Set for Littlewood Classic
Iowa to play 5 games in 3 days in Tempe, Ariz.
Junior Johnnie Dowling and the Hawkeyes will play five games this weekend at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
Junior Johnnie Dowling and the Hawkeyes will play five games this weekend at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
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Feb. 15, 2012

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The University of Iowa softball team heads to the Valley of the Sun for its second tournament of the season -- the Littlewood Classic -- in Tempe, Ariz. The Hawkeyes open play against Illinois State on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. before facing No. 5/6 Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. Iowa faces Central Michigan and Iowa State at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday before closing out play against Central Michigan at 11 a.m. Sunday. All times listed are Central.

The first four games of the classic will be played at Arizona State's Farrington Softball Stadium. Sunday's finale will be contested at South Mountain Community College.

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.

Hawkeye fans can follow the University of Iowa softball team on the social media platforms Twitter (@iowasoftball) and Facebook (facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball). Game updates will be tweeted during each game.

Illinois State heads to Arizona after posting a 3-1 record last weekend at the USF Tournament. The Redbirds' lone defeat came at the hands of fourth-ranked Florida, 11-0 (5). Illinois State, the preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorites, had three players named to the preseason all-conference team in catcher Elizabeth Kay and outfielders Lizzie Andrews and Jhavon Hamilton. Andrews is batting .500 (5-of-10) with two home runs and five RBI this season to pace the squad. Jordan Birch is pacing the Redbirds on the rubber, posting a 3-0 record with two complete game shutouts. She has a 0.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts.

Arizona State, the defending National Champion and preseason PAC-12 favorite, is 5-2 after falling to Tennessee and McNeese State last weekend. Bailey Wigness has six hits in nine at-bats for a .667 average to lead the Sun Devils, while Annie Lockwood is hitting .400 with eight RBI. Hillary Bach is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA with 17 strikeouts in the circle, while Dallas Escobedo is 1-1 with a 3.82 ERA and 22 strikeouts. Escobedo and shortstop Katelyn Boyd were both named to the Top-50 Watch List for the USA Softball Player of the Year.

Iowa State is currently 2-1 on the season after topping Western Illinois and Green Bay, and falling to Valparaiso last weekend in games played indoors at the Bergstrom Facility in Ames. Tori Torrescano is leading the Cyclones at the plate and on the rubber. She is hitting .500 with two home runs and four RBI, while posting a 2-0 record with a 1.56 ERA in the circle.

Central Michigan will be opening its 2012 season in Tempe. The Chippewas return seven starters and 17 letterwinners from a squad that went 32-21 last season. CMU, which was picked fourth in the MAC West Division, returns a pair of All-MAC selections in Macy Merchant and Brittney Horan.

• Iowa is 78-69-1 against the three teams it will face in the Littlewood Classic.
• The Hawkeyes are 32-19 against Illinois State, 10-21 against Arizona State, 30-27-1 against Iowa State and 6-2 against Central Michigan.
• Iowa gets it second crack at a top 10 team when it faces No. 5/6 Arizona State. The Hawkeyes are 0-1 against ranked foes this season, falling 4-0 at No. 7 Baylor last weekend.

• Senior Liz Watkins passed assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson in career RBIs with her three RBI performance in the Getterman Classic. Watkins is eighth in school history with 110 RBI.
• Over the past three games, freshman Megan Blank has seven hits in nine at-bats.
• Junior Chelsea Lyon tossed a pair of complete game shutouts in victories over Wichita State and Belmont. The two shutouts matches her career total through her first two seasons.
• Iowa swiped five bases in the season-opener against Wichita State, the most in a single game by a Big Ten team. The Hawkeyes were 8-of-9 on the base paths over the first five games.
• The Hawkeyes walked 10 times in the season-opener against Wichita State.

Shortstop Megan Blank was tabbed as the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Feb. 13 after posting a .583 batting average with six runs and two steals at the Getterman Classic. The California native reached base at nearly a 70 percent clip, getting on twice or more in four games. She went 3-for-3 against Arkansas, drew four walks against Wichita State and scored the game-winning run in the 1-0 win over UT-Arlington.

Sophomore Kayla Massey posted a 1-1 record with a 0.86 ERA in the opening tournament of the season. She allowed one earned run and scattered four hits against No. 7 Baylor, retiring the first nine batters in order. She also retired nine straight against Arkansas, allowing one run on one hit in 3.1 innings. Massey allowed four hits over seven innings in a complete game 1-0 victory over Texas-Arlington.

Iowa's 2.85 team ERA ranks third in the Big Ten, while the Hawkeyes are fifth and sixth in the conference in fielding and batting, respectively. Freshman Megan Blank and junior Ashley Akers are in the top five in batting average. Blank is tied for first with a .583 average, while Akers is tied for fifth at .500. Blank is also leading the conference with a .688 on-base percentage. Sophomore Kayla Massey is third in both ERA (0.86) and opposing batting average (.153).

Freshman Megan Blank and junior Ashley Akers were selected to the Getterman Classic all-Tournament Team. Blank collected hits in 7-of-12 at-bats for a .583 average, while Akers batted .500, tallying six hits in 12 at-bats.

With their two run-rule victories over Wichita State and Belmont, the Hawkeyes have nearly matched their run-rule totals from the 2011 season. Iowa posted three run-rule contests in 51 games last season. The team has two in five games thus far in 2012.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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