April 10, 2014
The University of Iowa softball team hits the road for a Big Ten series at No. 19/22 Nebraska this weekend, April 11-12. The series will begin with a 4 p.m. (CT) doubleheader on Friday and conclude with a single game at 4 p.m. (CT) on Saturday.
Game two of the three-game series will be shown live on the Big Ten Digital Network. It will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. (CT) on Friday. Live audio will be available for all games at hawkeyesports.com. Play-by-play announcer Rob Brooks 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 Nebraska, 12-9, in the all-time series.
In 2013, the Cornhuskers recorded the Big Ten series victory over Iowa at Pearl Field. The Hawkeyes won game one, 6-2, but fell in the next two contests, 11-1 in five innings and 3-2.
In 2012, Iowa won the series, 2-1. Nebraska won the first game, 7-4, but the Hawkeyes came back to record wins in game two, 7-6, and game three, 6-4. The series was played at Pearl Field.
The last time Iowa played Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., was at NCAA Regionals in 2005. The Cornhuskers defeated the Hawkeyes, 4-0, in game one, but Iowa forced a second meeting with Nebraska by recording a win over Creighton (2-1 in eight innings). Iowa defeated Nebraska, 1-0, in the second meeting.
SCOUTING THE CORNHUSKERS
No. 19/22 Nebraska enters the weekend with a 27-13 overall record and a 5-4 mark in Big Ten action. The roster is comprised of five freshmen, seven sophomores, two juniors and two seniors. Five starters are hitting above .300 this season, including Taylor Edwards (.376), Mattie Fowler (.357), Hailey Decker (.328), Austen Urness (.313) and Alicia Armstrong (.301). Pitcher Tatum Edwards leads the team in wins (14), ERA (2.15), appearances (26), shutouts (4), innings pitched (146.2) and strikeouts (140). Emily Lockman follows closely behind with 13 wins, 2.41 ERA, 23 appearances, three shutouts, 113.1 innings pitched and 81 strikeouts.
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.
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
Iowa currently ranks seventh in the Big Ten Conference standings with a 5-6 record.
Megan Blank leads the conference in hits (17), triples (2) and fielding double plays (5). She is also second in assists (25), fourth in RBIs (12) and total bases (27), fifth in batting average (.500), sixth in on-base percentage (.575) and 11th in slugging percentage (.794).
Claire Fritsch leads the conference in plate appearances (44). She is also third in assists (23), fifth in sacrifice bunts (3) and ninth in chances (61).
Brianna Luna leads the league in plate appearances (44) and at bats (37), and is fifth in stolen bases (3)
Kayla Massey leads the conference in starts (8), innings pitched (51.1) and looking strikeouts (16). She also ranks third in strikeouts (39) and appearances (7), fifth in wins (3) and opponent batting average (.229) and is sixth in ERA (2.18).
Shayla Starkenburg is fourth in home runs allowed (1), ninth in looking strikeouts (5), 11th in earned runs allowed (13) and 12th in ERA (4.01).
Kaitlyn Mullarkey is first with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, ninth in putouts (54) and 11th in chances (57).
Holly Hoffman is sixth in chances (65) and putouts (60).
Michelle Zoeller leads the conference in assists (29).
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 (78) and innings pitched (666.1), ninth in games pitched (121), wins (50) and strikeouts (404). 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 94-94 (.500). 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.
UI softball has turned 17 double plays in 30 games. The Hawkeyes lead the conference in double plays per game and rank second nationally in double plays per game (0.61) according to the most recent release of NCAA statistics.
Every player in the infield and two pitchers have 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 shortstop Megan Blank and Claire Frtisch who have taken part in nine and eight, respectively. Third baseman Michelle Zoeller (3), pitcher Kayla Massey (2), first baseman Kaitlyn Mullarkey (2), catcher Holly Hoffman (1) and pictcher Shayla Starkenburg (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.
TAKING ON THE BEST
Six of Iowa's 20 losses have come at the hands of ranked foes: No. 14/18 Missouri on Feb. 14 (2-1 in eight innings), No. 14/16 Baylor on Feb. 15 (2-0), No. 23/RV Northwestern on April 5 (6-4 and 4-1) and No. 14 Minnesota on April 8 (2-0 and 7-0). UI recorded its first win over a ranked opponent on April 6 against No. 23/RV Northwestern, 4-3, in walk off fashion.
The Hawkeyes have also been defeated by teams receiving votes in at least one of the national polls on six occasions this year: Lipscomb on Feb. 14 (10-0 in five innings), UAB on Feb. 15 (6-1 in nine innings), and Mississippi State on Feb. 21 (2-0), Feb. 22 (5-0), and Feb. 23 (9-1 in five innings). Iowa is scheduled to play No. 19/22 Nebraska three times and No. 18/16 Missouri twice in the remainder of the 2014 season.
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 was narrowed to the Top 25 on April 9, but Blank did not make the cut. The Top 10 will be released 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.
Iowa has made four Women's College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history, and the four WCWS appearances equal the second most in conference history. The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships (1989, 1997, 2000, 2003) and two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003).
UI softball returns to Pearl Field on Wednesday, April 16 for a doubleheader against Missouri. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. (CT) and both games will be shown live on the Big Ten Digital Network. The Hawkeyes have already played the Tigers once this season. Iowa fell to Missouri, 2-1, after eight innings at Baylor's Getterman Classic on Feb. 14, 2014.