May 1, 2014
University of Iowa softball concludes regular season play at Pearl Field against Ohio State. The three-game series starts with a 6 p.m. (CT) contest on Friday (80s Night), continues with a 2 p.m. (CT) game on Saturday (Alumni Day) and ends with a 1 p.m. (CT) game on Sunday (Senior Day).
TAKE THE SHUTTLE
Due to a Hawkeye track meet, parking may be limited at Pearl Field on Saturday. Additional parking space has been made available at the Hall of Fame. A shuttle will take fans to and from Pearl Field on a continuous loop beginning at 10:30 a.m. (CT).
All three games will be shown live online on the Big Ten Digital Network. A live audio stream is also available. Play-by-play announcer Rob Brooks will call the action. Links to both are available on the softball schedule page at hawkeyesports.com.
Fans can follow along with every game this week through live stats (Gametracker). Gametracker links are available on the softball schedule page of hawkeyesports.com. For in-game updates, follow @IowaSoftball on Twitter and "like" Iowa Hawkeyes Softball on Facebook.
IN PURSUIT OF 100
Fourth-year head coach Marla Looper has a career coaching record of 99-101-1 (.495). She is just one win from achieving her 100th win as a head coach. Seniors Brianna Luna, Kayla Massey and Michelle Zoeller and Looper's coaching staff of Adrianna Baggetta, Stacy May-Johnson and Chelsey Carmody have been a part of each one of her 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.
The Hawkeye offense has hit nine home runs in their last five games. Iowa knocked a season-high four balls out of the park on April 23 at Iowa State, hit a solo home run in game one at Indiana on April 25, ripped two home runs in game three at Indiana on April 27 and added two more long balls against Northern Iowa on April 30. Megan Blank has hit four of the nine home runs in the stretch, followed by Brianna Luna who has hit two out. Kayla Massey, Whitney Repole and Erin Erickson each contributed one home run in the last five games. Iowa has 20 total home runs in 2014.
Facing a nine-run deficit with a run rule loss looming, University of Iowa softball rallied for eight runs in the sixth before ultimately falling to Northern Iowa, 9-8, on April 30. Megan Blank hit two home runs in the bottom of the sixth to fuel the Hawkeye scoring drive. Her two home runs match her career-high game total, set at Michigan on April 21, 2014.
Blank started the scoring drive with a leadoff home run to right. Holly Hoffman kept it going with a single and was replaced by Kara Misel on the basepaths. After a Whitney Repole walk and a wild pitch, an error plated the second run of the inning. With two teammates on base, Claire Fritsch delivered her third triple of the season to clear the bases and bring Iowa within five, 9-4.
The Panthers elected to make a pitching change, but the hits kept coming for the Hawkeyes. Consecutive pinch hitters Alyssa Navarro and Michaela Johnson reached on a single and a walk, respectively. Brianna Luna delivered a single through the left side to plate an Iowa run, but the second out was made at third on the play. The hit extended Luna's hitting streak and reached base streak to six games. Blank added the final two runs with her second home run of the inning to right field.
Senior Kayla Massey and junior Megan Blank continue to climb their way up Iowa's career ranks. Massey is currently fifth in complete games (85), seventh in innings pitched (718.1), eighth in games pitched (129), ninth in wins (53) and strikeouts (439) and 14th in home runs (15). Blank ranks eighth in doubles (40) and home runs (18), and 10th in triples (10) and RBIs (112).
As a team, Iowa ranks 15th nationally in double plays per game (0.48) and 60th in triples per game (0.21).
Alyssa Navarro is 60th in sacrifice hits per game (0.21) and Megan Blank is 83rd in triples (3).
CONSIDERING CONFERENCE ONLY
Kayla Massey leads the Big Ten with 26 looking strikeouts. She also ranks second in innings pitched (85.2), fourth in strikeouts (60) and games started (12), fifth in earned run average (2.04) and opponent batting average (.229) and 10th in wins (5).
Megan Blank leads the Big Ten in with two triples. She is also second in assists (46), seventh in fielding double plays (5) and 12th in on-base percentage (.477).
Kaitlynn Mullarkey is tied for the league lead with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage (1.000). She is also eighth in putouts (112) and 10th in chances (115).
Micaela Whitney is seventh in games finished (4).
Alyssa Navarro is fourth in sacrifice bunts (5).
Brianna Luna is eighth in at bats (65).
Michelle Zoeller is fourth in assists (43).
Claire Fritsch is seventh in assists (40).
Iowa leads Ohio State, 65-37, in the all-time series.
The Hawkeyes have topped the Buckeyes in five of the last seven games played.
Ohio State bounced Iowa from the 2013 Big Ten Tournament in comeback fashion, 8-4, on May 9, 2013.
In the last regular season conference series on May 5-6, 2012, Iowa defeated Ohio State in two of three games. The Hawkeyes swept the day one doubleheader with 2-0 and 13-5 victories before falling to the Buckeyes in game three, 2-1, in Columbus, Ohio.
A LOOK AT THE BUCKEYES
Big Ten foe Ohio State owns a 26-23 overall record and an 11-9 mark in conference play heading into the weekend series. The roster is comprised of two freshmen, four sophomores, eight juniors and eight seniors. The squad is led by second-year head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly, and she is assisted by Amanda Buchholz and Jenna Hall. Four Buckeye starters have a batting average of .300 or better including Evelyn Carrillo (.375), Taylor Watkins (.365), Caitlin Conrad (.331) and Cammi Prantl (.314). Olivia O'Reilly has a team-high 13 wins, 34 appearances, 22 starts, 12 complete games, three shutouts, 135.1 innings pitched and 86 strikeouts, while Alex DiDomenico leads the way with a 2.92 earned run average.
Friday is 80's Night at Pearl Field. Fans are encouraged to wear 80's apparel to the game and can participate in 80's trivia throughout the game. There is also a chance to win an 80's photo frame (Herky and the Pentacrest). The first 100 fans through the gates will receive a free Hawkeye headband.
Saturday is Alumni Day and Beach Day. Alumni in attendance will be recognized in a ceremony prior to first pitch. The first 250 fans will receive complimentary sunglasses and the first 100 kids will receive free ice cream filled mini-helmets. Fans can register to win one of two beach towels and a $50 Herky's Locker Room gift card. Kids can run the bases following the completion of the game.
Sunday is Senior Day for three Hawkeyes -- Brianna Luna, Kayla Massey and Michelle Zoeller. The team will honor its 2014 senior class following the game. It is also Fan Appreciation Day and the first 250 fans through the gates will receive a free set of Iowa Softball trading cards. The team will sign autographs following the game and the Senior Day ceremony.
UI softball begins postseason play at the 2014 Big Ten Tournament at Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois on May 2-4. The tournament schedule and seeds will be determined following the completion of all weekend conference games. Stay tuned to hawkeyesports.com for updates.