April 8, 2014
The University of Iowa continues its home stand with a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 8 against Big Ten foe Minnesota. Game one will begin at 3:05 p.m. (CT). Both contests will be aired live on the Big Ten Network. Lisa Byington (play-by-play) and Jennie Ritter (color) will call the action from the Chicago studio.
Live audio will be available for both games at hawkeyesports.com. Play-by-play announcer Jon Swisher will call the action. Fans can also follow along 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.
Iowa leads Minnesota, 58-41, in the all-time series.
In 2013, the Golden Gophers swept the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten action at Pearl Field. Minnesota won 4-1, 7-3 and 10-1.
Iowa took two-of-three games from Minnesota in 2012, winning game one, 1-0 in eight innings, and game three, 5-4. The Golden Gophers won the second contest, 4-1. The series was played in Minneapolis.
Iowa's last win over Minnesota at Pearl Field occurred on May 9, 2009. The Hawkeyes swept the Golden Gophers at home that season with a pair of shutouts, 2-0 and 3-0.
WALK OFF WINNER
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Hawkeyes scored on a walk off wild pitch to secure a 4-3 win over No. 23 Northwestern. Brianna Luna led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to right center. After a Northwestern pitching change, Luna moved to third on a Fritsch sacrifice bunt. The Wildcats elected to intentionally walk Megan Blank to get to Kayla Massey who was hit by a pitch in her at bat to load the bases. With Holly Hoffman at the plate and one out on the board, a Bond wild pitch got by the catcher, allowing Luna to slide in, score the game-winning run and give the Hawkeyes their 10th win of the season and first victory over a ranked opponent. Massey earned her sixth complete game win in the circle and struck out six Wildcats. Four Hawkeyes recorded a hit in the ball game including Luna (1-for-3), Fritsch (1-for-3), Erickson (1-for-3) and Navarro (1-for-2). Fritsch drove in two runs, while Navarro plated one.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Four Hawkeyes have been hot at the plate at home so far this year. In four games at Pearl Field, Iowa leadoff hitter Brianna Luna leads the team with a .538 batting average (7-for-13), .692 slugging percentage and .625 on-base percentage. She also hit two of her four doubles this season at home. Two-hole hitter Claire Fritsch is hitting at .500 clip (7-for-14) with a .571 slugging percentage and a .533 on-base percentage. Three of her six RBIs on the season have come at home. Three-hole hitter Megan Blank owns a .400 batting average (4-for-10) and .533 on-base percentage with four walks. She has driven in five runs in the four-game home stretch. Alyssa Navarro (.333) and Holly Hoffman (.300) are also hitting .300 or above in home action.
A FRESH START
After starting the year with a 5-13 record, the Hawkeyes took advantage of its fresh start in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes are currently tied for fifth in the conference standings with a record of 5-4. In week one, Iowa defeated Illinois in game one, 4-3 in nine innings, and game two, 10-7, before dropping the finale, 4-3 after eight innings. The Hawkeyes recorded their second consecutive, 2-1, series win over Wisconsin the following weekend. The UI won game one, 4-1, fell in the second contest, 8-4, and rebounded with a 4-1 win in the final game of the series. After dropping its first two games to No. 23 Northwestern, the Hawkeyes topped the Wildcats, 4-3, in the third game. It marked Iowa's first win over a ranked foe this season.
In conference games alone, Iowa is hitting .274 with a .401 slugging percentage and .367 on-base percentage. The Hawkeyes have scored 38 of its 86 runs (44 percent), recorded 69 of its 183 hits (38 percent) and compiled 32 of its 73 RBIs in Big Ten action. In nonconference games, the Hawkeyes own a .243 batting average, .345 slugging percentage and .317 on-base percentage.
As a team, Iowa ranks second nationally in double plays per game (0.61), 41st in triples per game (0.25) and 63rd in doubles per game (1.39).
Megan Blank is 38th in triples (3) and triples per game (0.11).
Whitney Repole is 107th in hit by pitch per game (0.20).
Claire Fritsch is 133rd in sacrifice hits per game (0.18).
Kayla Massey is 137th in shutouts with two.
CONSIDERING CONFERENCE ONLY
In Big Ten games alone, Megan Blank is leading the conference in batting average (.536), triples (2), fielding percentage (1.000) and fielding double plays (5). She is also second in assists (22), third in on-base percentage (.618), fourth in hits (15) and RBIs (12), fifth in total bases (25) and seventh in slugging percentage (.893).
Kayla Massey leads the conference in innings pitched (44.1), batters struck out looking (15) and games started (6). She also ranks third in strikeouts (33) and wins (3), sixth in earned run average (2.21) and opposing batting average (.242), seventh in appearances (6) and eighth in home runs allowed (2).
Shayla Starkenburg is fourth in home runs allowed (2), ninth in runs allowed (15), 10th in earned runs allowed (12) and 11th in doubles allowed (4).
Holly Hoffman is seventh in putouts (51) and eighth in chances (55).
Michelle Zoeller leads the conference in assists (27).
Brianna Luna ranks fifth in stolen bases (3).
Claire Fritsch is fourth in sacrifice bunts (3).
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 (105) and 16th in career home runs (14). Senior Kayla Massey is also ranked in several career categories. She is seventh in complete games (77) and innings pitched (659.1), ninth in games pitched (120), wins (50) and strikeouts (398). Massey is just one home run (13) from entering the career home run list.
IN PURSUIT OF 100
Fourth-year head coach Marla Looper has a career coaching record of 94-92 (.505). She is just six wins from achieving her 100th win as a head coach. Seniors Brianna Luna, Kayla Massey and Michelle Zoeller have been a part of each one of Looper's career wins. Iowa 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.
Hawkeye junior Megan Blank appeared in the Top 50 Watch List for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year released on Jan. 29, 2014. The shortstop -- who made 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 College 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.
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.
Tuesday is Facebook and Twitter Appreciation Day. FREE admission coupons are available on Iowa softball's Twitter (@IowaSoftball) and Facebook (Iowa Hawkeyes Softball) pages. Print them out and present them on game day. There will also be Social Media Trivia during the game. The first 100 fans through the gates will also receive an Iowa softball mouse pad.
The Hawkeyes head to Nebraska for a three-game series, April 11-13, before returning to Pearl Field for a midweek doubleheader against Missouri on April 16. Iowa will remain at home for a series against Michigan State, April 18-20.