April 4, 2014
University of Iowa softball takes on No. 23/RV Northwestern in a three-game Big Ten series at Pearl Field this weekend, April 5-6. The series begins with a 2 p.m. (CT) doubleheader on Saturday and concludes with a 1 p.m. (CT) contest on Sunday. This is the first home conference series of the season for the Hawkeyes.
Live audio will be available at hawkeyesports.com for each game of the series. Play-by-play announcer Rob Brooks will call the action. Fans can also follow along with the action through 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" Iowa Hawkeyes Softball on Facebook.
Northwestern has a slight edge over Iowa in the all-time series, 51-50.
Iowa defeated Northwestern in two-of-three games in the 2013 conference series. The Hawkeyes won game one, 12-7, and game two, 15-14, before falling the finale to the Wildcats, 11-3 in five innings.
The last six games between the two teams have been played at Northwestern.
The teams last played at Pearl Field in Iowa City on April 16-17, 2011. The Hawkeyes two-of-two contests played, 10-8 and 9-7.
MASSEY NAMED BIG TEN PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Senior Kayla Massey earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time in her career on March 31 after throwing two complete game wins at Wisconsin last weekend. In game one, Massey limited the Badgers to one run and struck out six. She also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run and an RBI to help her cause.
The Foothill Ranch, Calif., native matched her season-high with seven strikeouts in game three of the series and held the Wisconsin offense to one run. Massey went 1-for-4 at the plate in the contest.
On the weekend, Massey posted a 2-0 record, 1.00 earned run average and 13 strikeouts. She limited Wisconsin, a team that averages 4.1 runs per game, to one run in each of her games pitched. Massey also compiled a .364 batting average, .636 slugging percentage and .417 on-base percentage at the plate for the Hawkeyes.
SHOWING UP AT HOME
Senior Brianna Luna, freshman Claire Fritsch and junior Megan Blank led the Hawkeyes with strong offensive performances in their home opener against Drake. Luna matched her career-high with three hits (3-for-4). Fritsch posted a career-high three hits (3-for-4) and matched career-highs with two runs scored, one double, one RBI and one stolen base. Blank drove in a team high two runs with a single through the right side. She was 1-for-2 in the contest with a walk.
A FRESH START
After playing to a 5-13 preconference record, the Hawkeyes were eager to start over in Big Ten play. The team has taken advantage of its clean slate and ranks fifth in the conference with a 4-2 mark. The UI has defeated Illinois and Wisconsin, 2-1, in its first two series of the year.
Iowa compiled a .243 batting average, .345 slugging percentage and .245 on-base percentage in the preseason. However, in conference action, the Hawkeyes are hitting .290 with a .443 slugging percentage and a .373 on-base percentage. Five also own conference batting averages above .300 including Megan Blank (.600), Kayla Massey (.381), Whitney Repole (.368), Kaitlyn Mullarkey (.333) and Holly Hoffman (.316). No one was hitting above .300 prior to conference play.
To show support for Hawkeye men's basketball head coach Fran McCaffery's son, Patrick, and to raise awareness the University of Iowa softball team is wearing a decal on its helmets. Patrick, a 14-year-old, was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The decal features the thyroid cancer ribbon and says, `TEAM PAT.'
PURCHASE UI SOFTBALL SEASON TICKETS
University of Iowa softball season tickets are still on sale. Reserve season tickets are available for $20 and general admission season tickets are available for $15. All season ticket holders will receive a free Iowa softball seat cushion. Individuals 18 years and younger receive free general admission seating. Season tickets can be purchased online at hawkeyesports.com, by phone at 1-800-IA-HAWKS or in person at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Fans can also purchase single game tickets for $5 on game day at Pearl Field in Iowa City.
The first 250 fans through the gates on Saturday will receive FREE Iowa softball trading cards and all fans can register to win an autographed softball. Saturday is also hat day at the field and fans are encouraged to wear their favorite baseball or softball cap to the contest. The first 100 fans will receive a complimentary Iowa softball hat. One lucky hat wearer will be a prize winner and kids can run the bases following the completion of the game.
Sunday is Little League Day, where all area Little League teams are invited for a FREE clinic with the Iowa Softball team following the game (email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 319-335-9431 to register). Free pizza and t-shirts will be provided to clinic attendees. The first 100 fans will receive an Iowa softball seam bracelet, and the Hawkeyes will sign autographs following the game.
BIG TEN NETWORK TO AIR MINNESOTA ACTION
Iowa will appear once on the Big Ten Network this season against Minnesota in Iowa City. The double header, originally scheduled for April 9, will now be played on April 8 to coincide with the network schedule. The broadcast will begin with game one at 3 p.m. (CT). BTN will also cover Big Ten Tournament action in Evanston, Ill., May 9-10.
Junior Megan Blank owned the top spot with an Iowa career batting average of .413 prior to the start of the 2014 season. She is currently ninth in career doubles (38), tied for 10th in career triples (10), 11th in career RBI (102) and ranks 16th in career home runs (14). Senior Kayla Massey is also ranked in several career categories. She is seventh in complete games (75) and innings pitched (645.1), ninth in games pitched (118) and wins (49), and 10th in strikeouts (385). Massey is also just one home run (13) from entering the career home run list.
As a team, Iowa ranks third nationally in double plays per game (0.67), 28th in triples per game (0.29) and 87th in doubles per game (1.29).
Megan Blank ranks 25th in triples per game (0.13) and 29th in triples (3).
Whitney Repole is 88th in hit by pitch per game (0.22).
Michelle Zoeller is 108th in doubles per game (0.29).
Kayla Massey is 109th in shutouts (2).
Heading into week three of Big Ten play, Iowa is fifth in the standings with a 4-2 (.667) mark in conference play. The Hawkeyes have won two consecutive conference series, 2-1, over Illinois and Wisconsin.
Kayla Massey is sixth in earned run average (2.45), seventh in games started (14) and eighth in innings pitched (97.0) and batters struck out looking (20).
Micaela Whitney leads the conference in hits allowed (32) and triples allowed (0). She also ranks second in doubles allowed (5), third in earned runs allowed (17), fifth in runs allowed (23), seventh in walks allowed (21) and ninth in home runs allowed (4).
Shayla Starkenburg leads the league in home runs allowed (2). She is also sixth in hits allowed (46) and ninth in runs allowed (35).
Megan Blank is tied for second in triples (3) and sixth in fielding double plays (8).
Alyssa Navarro is second in fielding double plays (11), and 10th in chances (183) and putouts (168).
Claire Fritsch is sixth in fielding double plays (8) and seventh in assists (68).
Holly Hoffman is second in runners caught stealing (10).
RUN AND GUN
Catcher Holly Hoffman has consistently been erasing base runners for the Hawkeyes this season. The redshirt sophomore has thrown out 10-of-34 runners attempting to steal a base (29 percent). Her 10 runners caught stealing is second in the Big Ten. The highest caught stealing total is 14, held by Nebraska's Taylor Edwards. Hoffman needs to catch just two additional runners stealing to match her 2013 season total of 12.
UI softball has turned 16 double plays in 25 games. The Hawkeyes lead the conference in double plays per game and rank third nationally in double plays per game (0.67) according to the most recent release of NCAA statistics. Every player in the infield, including a pitcher, has taken part in at least one double play this season. First baseman Alyssa Navarro has been a part of a team-most 11 double plays, followed by second baseman Claire Fritsch and shortstop Megan Blank who have taken part in eight. Third baseman Michelle Zoeller (3), pitcher Kayla Massey (2), catcher Holly Hoffman (1) and first baseman Kaitlyn Mullarkey (1) have also played a part in at least one double play this season. Adding the lone double play for the Iowa outfield is Brianna Luna.
IN PURSUIT OF 100
Fourth-year head coach Marla Looper has a career coaching record of 93-89 (.510). She is just seven wins from achieving her 100th win as a head coach. Looper recorded 27 wins in 2011, 27 wins in 2012, and added 30 wins in 2013. The team's 30 wins last season was the highest win total since 2009 when the Hawkeyes posted a 42-19 mark.
UI softball continues its home stint with a Big Ten doubleheader against Minnesota on Tuesday, April 8. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. (CT) at Bob Pearl Field in Iowa City. Both games will be shown live on the Big Ten Network.