April 25, 2012
The University of Iowa softball team closes out the nonconference portion of its schedule by hosting Northern Iowa on Thursday night at Pearl Field. The doubleheader against the Panthers is slated to begin at 5 p.m. (CT).
Fans can listen to every game for the remainder of the 2012 season via the All-Access page at hawkeyesports.com. Rob Brooks, the voice of Iowa softball, will call the action. Hawkeye All-Access is a subscription service that charges $9.95 per month. Both games will be broadcast live on KXIC.
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.
Hawkeye fans can follow the University of Iowa softball team on the social media platforms Twitter (@iowasoftball) and Facebook (facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball). Game updates will be tweeted during each game.
Thursday night is Dance Marathon and UI Student Night at Pearl Field. The first 50 UI students will receive a voucher for a pizza and drink between the two games and have a chance to win an iPod Shuffle.
SCOUTING NORTHERN IOWA
The Panthers are currently 33-12 overall and sit atop the Missouri Valley Conference with a 17-2 overall record. UNI has won 21-of-24 games, but all three of the defeats have come in the last eight contests. The Panthers host Bradley on Wednesday night in a make-up game in Cedar Falls.
Northern Iowa is hitting .290 as a team, as six players are hitting at least .298 on the season. Mackenzie Daigh is leading the squad with a .405 batting average with a team-high 63 hits. Laura Turner is hitting .339 with six home runs and 30 RBI, while Whitney Plein has eight long balls and 29 RBI.
The Panthers have 12 shutouts on the season, and the pitching staff boasts a 2.06 team ERA. Jamie Fisher is 17-2 in 23 starts with a 1.53 ERA. She has 18 complete games and five shutouts. Fisher has allowed 33 earned runs in 151 innings, and has 174 strikeouts. Jaye Hutcheson is 13-8 with a 2.63 ERA with six shutouts, while Jessica Severinsen is 3-2 with a 2.55 ERA with one shutout.
Iowa leads the all-time series over Northern Iowa, 26-15. The two teams did not play last season. UNI claimed the last meeting in 2009, 8-7 in eight innings. Prior to that meeting, Iowa had won 17-of-18 games dating back to 1987.
The Panthers have scored 253 runs this season, while surrendering 123 runs. Nine different UNI players have double digit RBI totals, and six players have at least 20 RBIs.
Fourteen of the 21 players on UNI's roster are native Iowans.
Outfielder Hannah Borschel is the sister of former Iowa wrestling national champion Jay Borschel.
UNI catcher Laura Turner and Iowa centerfielder Johnnie Dowling were teammates at West Des Moines Valley High School, while Panther utility player Melissa Walls and UI outfielder Ashley Akers were teammates at Clear Creek Amana High School.
BIG TEN RACE HEATS UP
With three weekends remaining in the Big Ten softball season, only two games separate first through fifth place in the conference standings with Michigan (12-3) holding a one-game lead over second-place Wisconsin (11-4). Purdue is 10-4 and is third in the standings, followed by Iowa and Nebraska, which are tied for fourth with 10-5 conference marks.
Here are the remaining conference schedules for the top-five teams in the standings:
Michigan - Illinois (4/28-29), at Wisconsin (5/5-6), Purdue (5/11-13)
Wisconsin - at Purdue (4/28-29), at Michigan (5/5-6), at Nebraska (5/11-12)
Purdue - Wisconsin (4/28-29), at Minnesota (5/5-6), at Michigan (5/11-13)
Iowa - Indiana (4/28-29), at Ohio State (5/5-6), at Minnesota (5/11-12)
Nebraska - Michigan State (4/28-29), at Indiana (5/5-6), Wisconsin (5/11-12)
The Hawkeyes rank third in the Big Ten Conference in team fielding (.965) and team pitching (2.50) and ninth in team batting (.250).
Iowa has won five straight Big Ten games for the first time since the 2010 season. The Hawkeyes won six consecutive conference games and 9-of-10 to start the league season.
Senior Liz Watkins is batting .455 with three home runs and four RBIs over the team's last five games. The catcher has homered in three of the last four contests to give her 27 career home runs, which rank third in school history.
Junior Bradi Wall batted .455, which included a 3-for-3 series finale, in the three-game sweep at Michigan State.
Junior Johnnie Dowling is hitting .346 during Big Ten play with 18 hits in 52 at-bats. Wall's average is 50 points higher in league play, as she is hitting .289 (13-of-45).
Six Hawkeyes are hitting above .353 during the team's five-game Big Ten winning streak. Iowa has out scored its opponents 30-12 during the streak.
Senior Katie Keim hit for the cycle in the three-game series at Northwestern, finishing with a .500 batting average (5-for-10). She doubled in game one, went 2-for-3 with a home run and triple in game two, and 2-for-3 with a double in the finale.
Freshman Melanie Gladden delivered the game-winning RBI single to lift the Hawkeyes to a 7-6 win over Nebraska on April 14. It was her second game-winning hit, as she had a two-run double in the 2-0 victory over Virginia. Gladden also drew a bases loaded walk to give the Hawkeyes the 1-0, 10-inning victory over Illinois.
In Iowa's sweeps of Illinois and Michigan State, the pitching staff was dominant. Chelsea Lyon and Kayla Massey combined to go 6-0 with a 0.48 ERA with two shutouts. The duo allowed four runs (three earned) in 44 innings.
Massey (2.43) and Lyon (2.57) rank sixth and seventh in the Big Ten in ERA this season.
Keim is tied for eighth in the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.595), 10th in the Big Ten in RBI (34) and 11th in doubles (11).
Iowa has 17 double plays this season and the .40 double plays per game ranks 24th nationally in the category.
Twenty-two of Iowa's 42 games have been decided by two runs or less. Iowa is 8-14 in such games.
Iowa is 1-9 against ranked competition in 2012 with its lone victory coming against No. 23 Oklahoma State, 6-5, on March 3 in Oklahoma City.
MAKING MOST OF OPPORTUNITY
Sophomore Michelle Zoeller had her name penciled in the lineup for the first time this season as the designated player during the three game series at Michigan State, and she produced. The Wisconsin native had five hits in nine at-bats for a .556 batting average. She also had two RBI, scored a run and swiped a pair of bases. The weekend saw Zoeller's 2012 season batting average climb 131 points.
Freshman Megan Blank has reached base safely in 36-of-42 games for the Hawkeyes this season, including 15 of the last 16 games. The shortstop has tallied at least one hit in 31-of-42 games, and she is tied for the team lead with 16 multi-hit games.
Blank is a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree, earning the distinction Feb. 13 after hitting .583 in the season-opening Getterman Classic and April 9 after hitting .667 and reaching base in 11-of-15 plate appearances in the three-game series at Northwestern.
Blank reached base safely in nine straight plate appearances over the course of three-straight games April 4 and April 7. She walked in her final at-bat against Drake before reaching in all eight plate appearances in the Saturday doubleheader at Northwestern.
Blank's 14 doubles are tied for the 12th most in a single season in Iowa history, while her four triples are tied for the 15th most in the record books. Her .410 batting average would be the third best in a single season all-time.
Blank is second in the Big Ten Conference with a .410 batting average. She is also leading the league in doubles (14) and tied for first in triples (4), fourth in on-base percentage (.510), sixth in slugging percentage (.639), seventh in total bases (78) and 10th in hits (50).
Blank ranks 14th nationally in doubles per game (.33), 17th in triples (4) and 46th in batting average (.410).
Senior Katie Keim connected on her team-leading seventh home run of the season in the series opener at Michigan State. The seven long balls in 2012 are more home runs than Keim hit in her first three seasons as a Hawkeye, and they are tied for the 16th most in a single season in school history.
Keim saved the best for last, posting career-best numbers in nearly every statistical category as a senior. She is hitting .336, more than 70 points above her career average. She also has 11 doubles, 34 RBI and a .595 slugging percentage. Keim is tied for the team lead with 16 multi-hit games and leads with nine multi-RBI games.
Junior Chelsea Lyon has allowed four hits or fewer in six starts on the season.
Lyon has allowed one earned run or fewer in 10 starts.
Lyon has four shutouts on the year, which includes a 10-inning, complete game shutout in the 1-0 victory over Illinois.
Lyon had a career-high 10 strikeouts in Iowa's 7-5 victory over Central Michigan on Feb. 18. She finished with eight strikeouts -- the second most of the season -- in the 7-1 win at Michigan State.
Lyon is limiting opposing batters to a career-low .237 batting average, and she has a career-low 2.57 ERA.
Lyon has tossed a complete game in 16 of her 23 starts during her junior season.
Sophomore Kayla Massey was named the Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week on April 23 after going 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA in Iowa's three-game sweep at Michigan State. Massey scattered four hits and matched a season high with seven strikeouts in the complete game shutout in the series opener.
Massey now has six career shutouts, three as a sophomore and three as a freshman. She is 22-21 with a 2.87 ERA in 43 career starts.
Massey has allowed one earned run or fewer in 11 of her 19 starts this season.
Massey threw a three-hit, complete game shutout in Iowa's 2-0 victory over Virginia on March 16. It was her third career seven inning three-hitter, as she accomplished the feat against Eastern Michigan and Colgate as a freshman.
RECORD SETTING ROUT
Iowa had a record-setting 26-5 rout of Iowa State on Feb. 18 at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Hawkeyes set school records for runs (26), hits (29), RBI (23), total bases (41) and single game batting average (.659). Iowa scored 13 runs in the second inning alone, which is believed to be the school record.
Senior Katie Keim set a school record with five runs scored, while senior Liz Watkins tied the single game school record with five hits.
DOWLING MAKES THE MOVE
At the plate, junior Johnnie Dowling made the transition from a right-handed hitter to a left-handed slapper following the 2011 season to utilize her speed. The Des Moines, Iowa, native hit .216 with five home runs as a sophomore.
Dowling is hitting .284 this season from the left side of the plate, which is a career-best. She also has career highs in runs (26), hits (38) and walks (8).
WALL STILL GROWING
The 2012 season will be junior Bradi Wall's third year playing softball. Growing up, she played baseball and parlayed that experience into two appearances for the Canada National Baseball Team. The last two years Wall played softball at Iowa Western Community College, where she earned All-America recognition after batting .458 with 32 doubles.
MAY-JOHNSON AND 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). She will play for the Red, White and Blue again in 2012.
Iowa has made four Women's College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and it has played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history.
The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships and two Big Ten Tournament titles.