April 18, 2013
The University of Iowa softball team (24-16, 4-8) continues action this weekend at ninth-ranked and Big Ten-leading Michigan (36-7, 13-0). The opener is set for Friday at 5 p.m. The Hawkeyes and Wolverines will face-off in the middle game Saturday at 1 p.m., before concluding the set Sunday at 2 p.m. All times are listed Central and all games will be played at the Wilpon Complex in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The series finale will be broadcast live on BTN. Lisa Byington and Jennie Ritter will call the action. Friday's game can be seen live on the Big Ten Digital Network via Hawkeye All-Access or video.BTN.com. Hawkeye All-Access is a subscription service that charges $9.95 per month.
ON THE RADIO
Fans can listen via the All-Access page at hawkeyesports.com. Jon Swisher will call the action.
Hawkeye fans can follow the University of Iowa softball team on social media platforms Twitter (@iowasoftball) and Facebook (facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball). Game updates will be tweeted during each game.
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.
Iowa is 22nd in the updated NCAA Division I Softball RPI, and receiving votes in both major polls.
The Hawkeyes are 17-2 when scoring first, and 21-5 when scoring three or more runs.
Iowa is 15-0 when holding its opponents to two runs or less, and 18-2 when out-hitting its opponents.
Iowa has six wins against ranked opponents: No. 11 Louisville, No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 15 Stanford, No. 19 Nebraska, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 24 Oregon State. The Hawkeyes are 9-4 on the road (two losses at No. 1 Alabama, at No. 11 Louisville, at Northwestern).
Megan Blank, who became the ninth player in school history to garner first team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman, and the ninth to earn all-region recognition as a freshman in 2012, is second in the Big Ten with 49 RBIs (third highest single season total in program history). The sophomore was named Big Ten Player of the Week on March 4 and April 15. Blank is 12th nationally in RBIs per game.
Senior Johnnie Dowling leads the league with four triples. Dowling ranks 20th nationally.
Iowa has been hit-by-pitch 64 times this season to lead the Big Ten. Bradi Wall has been plunked 23 times this season. The senior leads the league and has twice as many HBPs as the next closest league player in the rankings. Wall is second nationally in HBPs.
Iowa is 53-52-1 all-time against Michigan.
The Hawkeyes and Wolverines have not met since 2011. Iowa downed No. 1 Michigan in the opener (April 23, 2011), 4-2, earning its first victory over a top-ranked team since 2005. The Wolverines won the second game, 3-2, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh to rally for the series-split.
Michigan is 36-7 overall and 13-0 in league play.
The Wolverines extended their winning streak to 18 games, the best in the nation, with a win at Indiana on Tuesday (7-4).
The Maize and Blue have won 13-straight league games -- the best conference streak since 2010.
Michigan is 9-0 at home, and 5-4 overall against ranked opponents.
Sierra Romero is batting .412 and leads the Big Ten with 55 RBIs and 17 home runs.
Sara Driesenga has started a team-high 27 games, and has notched a team-best 17 complete games. She is 22-5 and ranks third in the conference with a 1.66 ERA.
HIGHEST SCORING IOWA LEAGUE GAME...EVER
Iowa outlasted Northwestern, 15-14, in a marathon on April 13 in the middle game of a three-game set at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The slugfest included 29 runs on 25 hits and lasted almost three hours.
The 15 runs are the most by Iowa in a conference game since May 3, 1997, when the Hawkeyes won at Penn State, 19-1.
It also marks the most runs for Iowa against the Wildcats in 101 meetings
The 15 runs equal the second most ever by Iowa in a Big Ten game.
The 29 combined runs are the most in a Big Ten game that the Hawkeyes have played in, and the second most overall in program history (31 in a 26-5 victory over Iowa State last year).
After winning the opener, 12-7, the Hawkeyes posted 27 runs combined in the two road wins at Northwestern. Iowa pushed across 16 runs total in in its first nine league games, entering the series.
The 27 runs mark the most over two games since the Hawkeyes scored 33 in back-to-back wins against Central Michigan (7-5) and Iowa State (26-5) on Feb. 18, 2012.
BLANK EARNS 2ND B1G PLAYER OF THE WEEK NOD
Megan Blank was named Big Ten Player of the Week on April 15, earning her second Player of the Week honor this season (March 4). Blank did not record an out in 14 plate appearances while leading the Hawkeyes to a series victory at Northwestern. The shortstop finished a perfect 4-for-4 when Northwestern chose to pitch to her, compiling a solo home run, a triple, two singles, three runs and three RBIs. She garnered eight walks and two hit-by-pitches. Blank added a stolen base to go along with a 2.250 slugging percentage. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice last season.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Megan Blank is hitting .440. The single season school record is 428, set by Kim Davis in 1993. The sophomore's career average is .411. The school record is .409, set by Lea Twigg (1996-97).
Blank has 49 RBIs this season, matching the third highest total in school history. Christy Hebert (1996) ranks second with 50, while Debbie Bilbao posted a school-record 61 RBIs in 1997.
Blank has eight home runs this season, tying the 12th-highest single season total.
Johnnie Dowling has scored 109 career runs, equaling the 12th-highest total in program history. The senior has swiped 47 career bases, which ranks 10th. Her four triples this season tie the 16th-most in a season in school history.
Junior Kayla Massey is eighth all-time with 59 complete games.
Senior Chelsea Lyon ranks 10th in career strikeouts (336) and ninth in career games pitched (110).
Megan Blank is second in the Big Ten with 49 RBIs, ranks fourth with 89 total bases, and a .767 slugging percentage, and fifth with a .440 batting average.
Senior Johnnie Dowling leads the league with four triples. Junior Michelle Zoeller is tied for sixth with two.
Dowling ranks eighth in runs scored (35) and ninth in stolen bases (14).
Bradi Wall leads the Big Ten with 23 hit-by-pitches.
B1G PLAY IS BACK
Head coach Marla Looper led the Hawkeyes to a runner-up finish in the Big Ten a year ago -- the program's highest finish since winning the league title in 2003. Iowa dropped two of its first three conference series before winning five straight to close out the season. It was the first time the team had won five straight series since the 2004 season. Iowa entered the final weekend with a conference title within reach, but it couldn't close the gap with Michigan despite taking 2-of-3 games at Minnesota. The Hawkeyes finished with a 27-26 overall and 16-8 conference record in 2012, winning 11 of their final 15 Big Ten games. Looper is 29-27 at Iowa during league play.
HAWKEYES ROUT DRAKE, 18-0
Iowa routed Drake, 18-0, in five innings on April 3 at Ron Buel Field behind a season-best 17 hits and a complete game victory from junior starter Kayla Massey.
The Hawkeyes also posted season highs in runs (18), RBIs (15), home runs (three) and walks (seven).
The 18 runs mark the most for Iowa since Feb. 18, 2012, when the Hawkeyes blasted Iowa State, 26-5, in five innings.
Eleven players found the hit column, while four posted multi-hit games and three notched multi-RBI contests.
The Hawkeyes, 34-10 all-time against the Bulldogs, posted their largest margin of victory over their in-state foes in series history.
Senior Johnnie Dowling, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, scored a career-best four runs in the leadoff spot, finishing 2-for-5 at the plate.
Megan Blank finished a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate, adding two RBIs and two runs. The four hits mark a career best for the sophomore.
Massey helped herself at the plate, hitting her-team leading sixth home run of the season. She finished with three RBIs and also posted a game-high six assists in the field.
In the circle, Massey allowed four hits in five shutout innings to move to 11-7. Massey struck out three Bulldogs and surrendered zero walks. She has tossed 16 complete games in 18 starts this season.
PLAYING WITH THE BEST OF 'EM
The Hawkeyes will face a difficult schedule in 2013. Iowa will play 13 opponents that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, including defending national champion Alabama. The Hawkeyes will play 14 teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the latest polls. The Hawkeyes are 6-6 against ranked opponents (Louisiana Lafayette, 1-1; Alabama, 0-2; Stanford, 1-0; Oregon State, 1-0; Louisville, 1-1; Kentucky, 1-0; Nebraska, 1-2).
The Big Ten is one of three conferences, joining the SEC and Pac-12, with six or more teams in the top 50 of the latest RPI report, released by the NCAA. Michigan (10th), Nebraska (15th), Iowa (22nd), Wisconsin (25th), Minnesota (33rd) and Northwestern (46th) appear in the top 50. Five Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the national rankings this week. Michigan climbs into the top 10 in both the USA Softball and NFCA polls, appearing at No. 9. Nebraska is rated 18th in the USA Softball poll and 21st in the NFCA rankings, while Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin each are among the squads also receiving votes in both polls.
BLANK NAMED BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore Megan Blank was named Big Ten Player of the Week on March 4. The Culver City, Calif., native hit .429 in her home state, leading Iowa to wins against No. 15 Stanford (7-6), No. 24 Oregon State (9-3), Cal State Fullerton (7-0) and CSU Bakersfield (5-3), March 1-2. She recorded at least one RBI in every game, recording eight in all, and scored five runs. Blank paced Iowa with two RBIs in the win over the Cardinal, who had won 10-of-11 entering the contest. She recorded a multi-hit game against the Beavers, finishing 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run, two runs scored and four RBIs. Oregon State entered the contest with a 12-game win streak. In the victory over the Titans, she finished 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. She added a triple and an RBI against Bakersfield. It marks Iowa's first Player of the Week honor since April 18, 2011, when catcher Liz Watkins garnered the accolade.
INTRODUCING YOUR 2013 HAWKEYES
The Hawkeyes have seven new faces on the 2013 roster -- seven incoming freshmen. Iowa's roster is full of youth, as 10-of-the-22 players are freshmen or sophomores. The Hawkeyes have two sophomores, seven juniors and five seniors (Ashley Akers, Johnnie Dowling, Sam Valentine, Bradi Wall and Chelsea Lyon). Iowa returns four players that earned All-Big Ten honors a year ago (Dowling, juniors Kayla Massey and Michelle Zoeller, and sophomore Megan Blank).
MAY-JOHNSON SHINES FOR 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). In 2012, May-Johnson helped the USA Softball Team to the gold medal at the 2012 World Cup of Softball presented by Lumber Liquidators. May-Johnson started 5-of-6 games for Team USA, posting a .357 (5-of-14) batting average with three runs, two RBIs and two walks. Her best game came in a 9-0 victory over Canada, where she went 2-for-2 with a run scored. The Americans posted a perfect 6-0 record during the competition, and they outscored their opponents, 41-3, in the five day event.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Grove triplets -- Brittanee, Malloree and Steviee -- have been reunited as teammates on the Iowa softball team. Brittanee and Malloree played their freshman seasons at Creighton University, while Steviee was a catcher at Indiana State.
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).
B1G TOURNEY IS BACK
The Big Ten Tournament is back this season for the first time since 2008. Following the conclusion of the regular season, Iowa will travel to Lincoln, Neb., May 9-12. The Hawkeyes have claimed two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003) and have won 21 games in the event all-time, marking the second most of any team. The conference tournament was discontinued from 2009-12.
ON THE HORIZON
The Hawkeyes continue action next Tuesday, hosting Illinois in a doubleheader at Pearl Field in Iowa City. First pitch of game one is set for 3 p.m. Both games can be seen live on BTN.