April 24, 2013
The University of Iowa softball team (24-21, 4-13) continues action with four games in the next four days, starting Thursday at Northern Iowa (21-21). First pitch is set for 5 p.m. at Robinson-Dresser Field in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Iowa returns home to host Penn State (11-30, 2-14) in a three-game set this weekend. Game one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Pearl Field. The middle game, which will serve as Iowa Softball Alumni Day, is set for 2 p.m. Saturday. The series will conclude with Iowa's Senior Day on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission to Pearl Field is $5 for adults. There is no charge for youth (high school age and younger) or UI students with a valid student ID.
Sunday's finale at Pearl Field against Penn State 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. Rob Brooks, the voice of Iowa softball, 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 latest NCAA Division I Softball RPI, and receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll.
The Hawkeyes are 17-4 when scoring first.
Iowa is 15-0 when holding its opponents to two runs or less, and 18-3 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.
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 56 RBIs (second-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 seventh nationally in on-base percentage (.581), 10th in RBIs per game and 12th in batting average (.461).
Senior Johnnie Dowling leads the league with four triples. Dowling ranks 26th nationally.
Iowa has been hit-by-pitch 69 times this season to lead the Big Ten. Bradi Wall has been plunked 25 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 27-16 all-time against Northern Iowa.
The Hawkeyes and Panthers split two games in Iowa City last year. Iowa erupted for seven runs in the sixth inning of game two to propel the Hawkeyes to a 7-0 victory and to salvage a split in the doubleheader at Pearl Field. The Panthers were victorious in the opening game, 4-3, in eight innings.
Iowa has won 18 of the last 21 meetings in the series.
Iowa is 39-16 all-time against Penn State.
The league foes split two meetings in Iowa City the last time they met in 2011.
SCOUTING NORTHERN IOWA
Northern Iowa is 21-21 overall, and 11-6 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
The Panthers have won seven-straight games.
UNI is 11-5 at home.
Nicole Fisher leads the regulars with a .310 batting average.
Jamie Fisher has started a team-high 29 games. She is 17-11 with a 2.09 ERA in 194.1 innings pitched.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
Penn State is 11-30 overall and 2-14 in league play.
The Nittany Lions are 3-9 in true road games and 6-14 in neutral site games.
Cassidy Bell leads the team with a .464 batting average. She is second in the Big Ten with 18 home runs.
Macy Jones has started a team-high 17 games. She is 10-14 with a 4.23 ERA in 139.0 innings pitched.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Megan Blank is hitting .461. The single-season school record is 428, set by Kim Davis in 1993. The sophomore's career average is .422. The school record is .409, set by Lea Twigg (1996-97).
Blank has 56 RBIs this season -- the second highest total in school history. Debbie Bilbao posted a school-record 61 RBIs in 1997.
Blank has 11 home runs this season -- the third-highest single-season total.
Johnnie Dowling has scored 112 career runs -- the 10th-highest total in program history. The senior has swiped 49 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 61 complete games.
Senior Chelsea Lyon ranks 10th in career strikeouts (338) and ninth in career games pitched (111).
Megan Blank is second in the Big Ten with 56 RBIs, ranks third with 109 total bases, a .852 slugging percentage, a .461 batting average, and fourth with a .581 on-base percentage.
Blank leads the league in Big Ten games only in batting average (.535) and on-base percentage (.688). She is slugging 1.116 in conference play, to rank second.
Senior Johnnie Dowling leads the league with four triples. Junior Michelle Zoeller is tied for second with three.
Dowling ranks eighth in runs scored (38) and eighth in stolen bases (16).
Bradi Wall leads the Big Ten with 25 hit-by-pitches.
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.
IOWA IN B1G PLAY
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 29-32 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 12 teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the latest polls. The Hawkeyes are 6-9 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; Michigan, 0-3).
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. Two teams appear in the top 10 including Michigan (ninth) and Nebraska (10th), with Iowa (22nd), Wisconsin (27th), Minnesota (34th) and Northwestern (47th) among the top 50.
Five Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the national rankings this week. Michigan remains in the top 10 in both the USA Softball and NFCA polls, appearing at No. 9. Nebraska is tied for 16th in the USA Softball poll and ranked 20th in the NFCA standings. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin each are receiving votes in the USA Softball poll and Wisconsin appears outside the NFCA top 25.
Indiana's Amanda Wagner (OBP), Megan Blank (RBI per game, OBP), Michigan's Sara Driesenga (wins), Sierra Romero (slugging percentage, home runs, RBI per game, runs per game), Minnesota's Sara Moulton (shutouts), Kaitlyn Richardson (batting average, OBP), Nebraska's Tatum Edwards (shutouts) and Penn State's Cassidy Bell (slugging percentage, home runs, walks, runs per game, OBP) rank among the top 10 nationally in their respective stat categories.
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 Wednesday, hosting Iowa State in the final contest of the 2012-13 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Pearl Field.