March 9, 2004
IOWA CITY –
Do You Know the Way to San Jose?
The University of Iowa softball team will travel West for spring break this weekend, kicking things off at the National Softball Invitational Tournament in San Jose. The Hawkeyes will be in Pool C, and open against No. 11 Washington at 5 p.m. on Friday. Iowa will then play Santa Clara at 7 p.m.
Round Robin play begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, and continues throughout the day. Consolation games are played at 11 a.m. Sunday, with the championship game at 1 p.m. All times are Central.
Looking Back at the Speedline
The Hawkeyes went 3-3 at the highly competitive Speedline Inivtational, held in Tampa, FL, last weekend.
Iowa defeated Boston University (4-0), Northern Illinois (5-1) and Troy State (1-0 in eight innings), and lost to Baylor (4-3 in nine innings), Tennessee-Chattanooga (1-0) and Tennessee Tech (1-0). The Hawkeyes also fell in an exhibition game with the United States National Team, 11-0 in five innings.
In game one with Baylor, the Hawkeyes dropped a hard-fought, 4-3 game in nine innings. Ali Arold pitched all nine innings, but picked up her first loss of the season. Stacy May was 2-for-3 with a home run.
On Friday against Northern Illinois, the Hawkeye bats came alive and pouned out 11 hits in a 5-1 win. Murray, Emily Gerlick and Jenna Spratt each had a pair of hits in the win. Arnold threw seven innings and picked up the victory.
Things didn’t go as well against Team USA, widely regarded as the best team on the planet. Iowa lost 11-0 in five innings.
The Hawkeyes used an RBI single from Gerlick to win a 2-1 extra-inning contest against Troy State Saturday. Birocci threw all eight innings and struck out 14.
Iowa lost its final two games of the tournament, both 1-0. The Hawkeyes fell to Tennessee-Chattanooga on Saturday, then Tennessee Tech in bracket play on Sunday.
Countdown to 1,000
Iowa Head Coach Gayle Blevins is closing in on an astonishing milestone. With 980 career victories, the Head Hawk is just 20 games shy of winning her 1,000th NCAA Division I game.
Only two Division I coaches have hit the millennium mark. Fresno State coach Margie Wright has 1,092 wins, while JoAnn Graff of Florida State has won 1,020.
Sandy Jerstad of Division II Augustana ended her career last season with 1,011 wins.
Hawkeyes In the Rankings
This week, the Iowa Hawkeyes fell out of the rankings for the first time this season.
The Hawkeyes are frequent participants in the National Softball Invitational Tournament, and have traditionally fared well there.
While they didn’t compete in San Jose last season, Iowa finished second in the hotly contested tournament the last two times it competed there.
In 2002, Iowa took second place after defeating eventualy NCAA Champion California and top-ranked UCLA. The game against the Golden Bears was Gayle Blevin’s 900th career win and her 600th at Iowa.
In 2001, the Hawkeyes were again the runner-up, falling to No. 4 California in the finals.
Big Ten Honors
Sophomore Ali Arnold was named co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week last week after her dominance in Louisville.
She tossed back-to-back shutouts against Louisville and Western Kentucky, while striking out 15.
Arnold shared the honor with Michigan’s Jennie Ritter.
Gerlick Gone Wild
Sophomore second baseman Emily Gerlick is currently leading the team with 10 RBIs. The Wonder Lake, IL, native is tied with three others for second on the team with a .333 average.
Coming into the season, the former walk-on had only one career at bat.
Feel the Breeze
After setting the Iowa single-season strikeout record last season, Lisa Birocci shows no signs of slowing down.
The junior fireballer has hit double digits in strikeouts in five of her seven starts this season. She has fanned at least 12 in each of her last four starts.
On the season, Birocci has 78 strikeouts in just 46 innings pitched and is averaging 11.87 per seven innings.
Feel the Breeze II
Last season, Ali Arnold was not known as a strikeout artist, notching 93 in 151 1/3 innings pitched.
This season, however, Arnold is throwing harder and sending more hitters to the bench with no contact. The sophomore has punched out 44 hitters on the year in 55 1/3 innings.
And She’s Off
Hawkeye freshman Mindy Heidgerken has become a terror on the basepaths in her first season.
The Long Grove, IA, native currently leads the team with six stolen bases, and has only been thrown out once.
Sophomore Kylie Murray is taking advantage of her first shot at a starting role. The Des Moines native has been in the starting lineup in every game, at third base or as the designated hitter.
Murray currently leads the team with a .389 batting average, 21 hits and six doubles.
The Pitchers Can Hit Too
Not only do the Hawkeyes starting pitchers dominant in the circle, but they can hit the ball pretty well too.
Starter Lisa Birocci is hitting .306 with 11 hits, a triple and a home run on the year.
Ali Arnold is leads the team with two home runs and is third with six RBIs.
Sophomore Stacy May is going to make you work to get her out. In 48 at bats, the Reno, NV, native has only struck out one time.
Making Them Count
Sophomore Emily Gerlick is hitting .333, but her average jumps to an amazing .529 with runners on base.
Gerlick is also hitting an impressive .500 with runners in scoring position.
Any Way She Can
Senior Sarah Thomson is tied for second on the team with a .333 average, but she owns a team-leading .421 on base percentage.
The Rocklin, CA, native has 11 hits, a team-leading five walks, has reached on two fielder’s choices and one error.
The Hawkeyes have gotten very solid catching from the duo of Sami Baugh and Elisha Huse.
Combined, the two haven’t committed an error yet this season.
In a way, it has been an all-or-nothing year for Iowa this season. Nine of the 15 games Iowa has played in have been shutouts on one side or another. The Hawkeyes have a 5-4 record in shutouts this season.
New Faces All Around
The Hawkeyes will definitely have a new look in the infield this season, with each position sporting a new face this year.
Sarah Thomson will take over duties at first base, while Emily Gerlick will be Iowa’s primary second baseman. Stacy May will move from third base to shortstop, while freshman Mindy Heidgerken or Kylie Murray will take May’s old spot at third.
Elisha Huse and freshman Sami Baugh will split time behind the plate.
All three outfield spots will have a new look, too.
Laura Chipman will move from left to centerfield, where she will replace Katie Boney. Amanda Hentges will move from first base to left, while Natalie Johnson will play in right. Freshman Jenna Spratt will serve as the utility outifelder this season.
The University of Iowa softball team will head into the 2004 season defending and undisputed Big Ten Champions. For the first time in the history of the program, the Hawkeyes captured both the regular season and tournament championships in the same season.
Iowa finished the regular season on top of the Big Ten standings with a 13-4 record.