March 19, 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.
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.
OPENING WEEKEND AT PEARL FIELD
Iowa will host Wisconsin for a three-game series this weekend at Pearl Field for its 2012 Big Ten Conference and home opener. Free beanies will be handed out to the first 50 fans on Saturday and trading cards will be given to the first 100 fans on Sunday. Sunday will also be Iowa softball bingo for a chance to win a free pizza from Pizza Hut, and there will be a postgame Q&A/autograph session with the Hawkeyes.
Fans will also have the opportunity to pick up free Iowa softball magnets, posters and schedule cards.
Missouri enters Wednesday's game riding a 15-game winning streak that has improved the team's record to 20-3 on the season. Last weekend, the Tigers opened Big 12 play by sweeping a three-game series over Kansas, which included two run-rule victories.
The Tigers, who are batting .320 as a team, have eight players hitting above .300. Ashley Fleming is pacing the squad with a .391 average with a team-best five home runs and 18 RBI. Jenna Marston (.387), Kelsea Roth (.378), Nicole Hudson (.356) and Lindsey Muller (.354) are all hitting over .350. The Tigers are active and successful on the base paths, converting 40-of-44 attempts this season. Thirteen MU players have at least two steals.
Missouri's pitching staff boasts a 1.04 team ERA, as none of the three hurlers have an ERA over 1.56. Junior Chelsea Thomas, a native of Pleasantville, Iowa, is 10-1 with a 0.59 ERA with six complete game shutouts. Thomas has 82 strikeouts in 59.1 innings and is limiting opposing batters to a .120 average. Baily Erwin is 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA and two shutouts, while Kristin Nottelmann is 6-2 with a 1.56 ERA and three shutouts.
Iowa is 6-10 all-time against the Tigers, falling each of the last three meetings. The Hawkeyes' last victory in the series came in 2000.
Missouri is 9-0 at University Field this season. Eight of the nine victories have ended early via run-rule.
Two of the Tigers' three losses came against Big Ten Conference teams at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Nebraska downed Missouri, 6-4, on Feb. 25 before Northwestern downed the Tigers, 7-1, on Feb. 26. The Wildcats are the last team to defeat Missouri this season.
Junior pitcher Chelsea Thomas was a teammate of UI assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson on the USA Softball Women's National Team.
Iowa and Missouri have played two common opponents in Washington and Arkansas. Iowa lost to the Huskies and Razorbacks, 4-3 and 8-0, respectively, while the Tigers defeated both teams, 2-0 and 4-0.
Missouri is the fifth opponent Iowa has played this season that advanced to the 2011 Women's College World Series. The Hawkeyes have already faced defending National Champion Arizona State along with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
The Hawkeyes rank third in the Big Ten Conference in team pitching (2.22 ERA), third in team fielding (.959) and ninth in team batting (.257).
Freshman Megan Blank batted .500 with seven hits in 14 at-bats during the spring break trip to California. The shortstop tallied Iowa's first triple of the season in the 4-3 loss to No. 3 Washington.
Blank is fifth in the Big Ten with a .415 batting average and her eight doubles are second most in the conference. She is currently riding a eight-game hitting streak, which is Iowa's longest streak of the season.
Sophomore Kayla Massey is fifth in the league with a 1.80 ERA.
Freshman Melanie Gladden had a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning to lift the Hawkeyes to a 2-0 victory over Virginia. The Cavaliers were receiving votes the ESPN.com poll on March 13.
The Hawkeyes fell to No. 13 Arizona, 6-1, in the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. Iowa's one run was the first scored against the Wildcats in seven games and ended UA pitcher Kenzie Fowler's scoreless inning streak at 38.
Iowa scored 26 runs in the 26-5 rout of Iowa State on Feb. 19. The Hawkeyes plated 13 runs in the top of the third inning alone. Iowa didn't score 13 runs in a game last season.
The Hawkeyes are 8-4 this season when scoring three or more runs and 8-5 when scoring the game's first run.
Sophomore Brianna Luna is tied for the Big Ten lead with eight hit by pitches.
NOT SHYING AWAY FROM TOP COMPETITION
The Hawkeyes have not shied away from playing against the nation's elite. Iowa has played eight games against ranked teams, including six games against top 13 ranked foes.
Iowa is 1-7 against ranked competition with its lone victory coming against No. 23 Oklahoma State, 6-5, on March 3 in Oklahoma City. The Hawkeyes nearly defeated No. 5 Arizona State in Tempe, falling 5-2 despite taking a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.
PITCHING STAFF SEES IMPROVEMENT
Iowa's pitching staff has lowered its team ERA by more than a run from the 2011 to the 2012 season. Kayla Massey (3.22) and Chelsea Lyon (3.35) finished with a 3.27 ERA in 2011 over 51 games. This season the pair has a 2.22 ERA -- the third best ERA in the Big Ten -- with Massey posting a 1.80 ERA and Lyon a 2.69 ERA.
8 & COUNTING
Freshman Megan Blank is riding an eight-game hitting streak for the Hawkeyes, the longest streak by an Iowa player this season. During the stretch, the California native has three multi-hit games, her sixth, seventh and eighth of the season.
Senior Katie Keim has a team-best 10 multi-hit games for the Hawkeyes this season. The first baseman has nine two-hit contests and one four-hit game. She went 4-for-6 with five runs and five RBI in the win over Iowa State. She also had her first career two-home run game against the Cyclones.
Keim is second on the team with a .351 batting average, while pacing the team with 18 RBI and three home runs.
IF YOU START, YOU SHALL FINISH
Sophomore Kayla Massey has made 11 starts for the Hawkeyes this season, and she has notched 11 complete games. The California native has a 1.80 ERA in 77.2 innings of work, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten.
RECORD SETTING ROUT
Iowa had a record-setting 26-5 rout of Iowa State on Feb. 18 at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Hawkeyes set school records for runs (26), hits (29), RBI (23), total bases (41) and single game batting average (.659). Iowa scored 13 runs in the second inning alone, which is believed to be the school record.
BLANK EARNS BIG TEN ACCOLADE
Shortstop Megan Blank was tabbed 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.
BLANK, AKERS EARN ALL-TOURNAMENT RECOGNITION
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.
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 Canada 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.
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.
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.