Iowa Hits the Road in the Big Ten

April 6, 2004


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On the Road Again

The University of Iowa softball team will hit the road this weekend when it travels to the state of Indiana for games against Indiana University and Purdue. The Hawkeyes will take on the Hoosiers Friday (3 p.m.) and Saturday (Noon), then travel to West Lafayette to battle Purdue in a Sunday doubleheader at noon.

Before the weekend, Iowa will play a non-conference game Wednesday against Northern Illinois. First pitch at Pearl Field is set for 4 p.m.

Looking Back at the Big Ten Opener

The Hawkeyes opened their Big Ten season last weekend in a big way, taking four games from conference foes Northwestern and Michigan State. Iowa topped Northwestern 7-2 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday, then swept a Sunday doubleheader with Michigan State. Iowa won by a score of 8-2 in both games.

In Friday’s game with Northwestern, Iowa fell into an early 2-0 hole, then rebounded to pound out seven runs in the final three innings.

Amanda Hentges and Emily Gerlick each picked up a pair of RBIs on the day, while Lisa Birocci threw five no-hit innings in relief to pick up the win.

On Saturday, the Hawkeyes came from behind again and posted a 6-1 win. Iowa exploded for four runs on five hits in the fourth inning. Natalie Johnson, Gerlick and Laura Chipman each picked up two hits.

On Sunday, the Hawkeyes fell into an early 1-0 hole when Spartan pitcher Jessica Beach hit a first-inning home run. Iowa responded with a leadoff home run from Johnson, her third of the year.

Iowa put the game away in the bottom of the third with four runs off four hits, led by Sarah Thomson’s three-run bases loaded double.

The Hawkeyes added two runs in the fifth and a run in the sixth to take the win. Ali Arnold, who pitched five and two-thirds innings of relief, picked up the win.

In game two, the Iowa offense kept rolling and pounded out 13 hits on the Spartan pitching staff. Lisa Birocci went the distance, allowing only five hits and striking out seven.

Countdown to 1,000

Iowa Head Coach Gayle Blevins is closing in on an astonishing milestone. With 993 career victories, the Head Hawk is just seven 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 1,112 wins, while JoAnn Graff of Florida State has won 1,036.

Sandy Jerstad of Division II Augustana ended her career last season with 1,014 wins.

Scouting Northern Illinois

The Northern Illinois Huskies are 10-22 on the season and 2-4 in the Mid American Conference.

The top hitter in the Huskie office is Kelly Drozd, who is batting .284 on the season with 11 RBIs and eight stolen bases. The power source for Northern Illinois is Shelby Bernard, who has a pair of home runs and a team-best 13 RBIs.

In the circle, Northern Illinois is led by Amy Krahula, who is 5-6 with a 2.81 ERA. Kathy Dearborn is 3-9 with a 2.89 ERA in a team-leading 80 innings pitched.

Scouting Indiana

The Indiana Hoosiers come into the week with a record of 23-18 and a 0-2 mark in the Big Ten Conference.

Karly McCormack leads the team with a .358 batting average. The senior also has three home runs and 21 RBIs. Redshirt freshman Tory Yamaguchi is hitting .328 with six home runs and 14 RBIs.

In the pitching circle, Venezuelan import Mariangee Bogado is the ace with a 12-9 record and 1.18 ERA. She has recorded 145 strikeouts on the season.

Indiana is coached by Sara Hayes, who is in her second season at the helm. Prior to her stint with the Hoosiers, Hayes was the head coach at Northern Iowa for two seasons.

Iowa leads the all-time series between the two schools, 46-27-1.

Scouting Purdue

The Purdue Boilermakers are 22-12 on the season and 0-2 in the Big Ten Conference. Before taking on Iowa, Purdue will play a midweek doubleheader with Notre Dame on Wednesday and play a pair of games with Illinois on Friday and Saturday.

The Purdue offense is led by Tricia Lilley, who is hitting .389 with two home runs and 24 RBIs.

In the circle, Brooke Baker is 13-3 with a 1.67 ERA. Diana LaRiva is 9-9 with a 2.09 ERA.

The Boilermakers will be without the services of all-American second baseman Andrea Hillsey, who tore her ACL in practice two weeks ago. She will miss the rest of the season.

Purdue is coached by former Hawkeye Carol Bruggeman, who is in her 10th year at the helm.

Iowa leads the all-time series with Purdue 25-3.

She Loves Big Ten Play

Sophomore Stacy May busted out in a big way in her first Big Ten weekend, hitting .467 (7-of-15) on the weekend.

May raised her average almost 30 points on the weekend, from .265 to .292.

Last season, May led the Big Ten in hitting during conference play with a .450 average.

A Single Shy

Hawkeye first baseman Sarah Thomson had a great day against Michigan State on Sunday, going 5-for-7 with three doubles and six RBIs.

In the second game, Thomson was a single short of hitting for the cycle. She was 3-of-4 in the game with a double, triple and home run.

Have a Seat

Junior Lisa Birocci is continuing her strikeout rampage this season, and currently leads the Big Ten with 174.

The Des Moines native is averaging 9.5 strikeouts per seven innings.

Last season as a sophomore, Birocci set the Iowa single-season record with 260 in 238 1/3 innings pitched, an average of 7.6 per seven innings.

In just two and a half seasons, Birocci is already fifth on the Iowa all-time strikeout list with 512. Kristi Hanks (1999-2002) is the all-time leader with 815.

Double Down

Sophomore Kylie Murray is hitting a team-leading .322, and is also leading the squad with 10 doubles.

Triple Threat

Hawkeye sophomore Emily Gerlick hit her team-leading fifth triple of the season. The three-bagger put her within striking distance of the Iowa single-season record held by Christina Schmaltz (2001-03), who hit eight last season.

A Monster With the Sacks Packed

The last thing an opposing pitcher wants to see is Kylie Murray in the batter’s box when the bases are loaded. So far this season, Murray is 3-for-5 with the sacks packed. One of those outs with the bases loaded was an RBI groundout.

Last year as a freshman, Murray was 4-for-5 with two grand slams when the bases were loaded.

Freshman With Fast Feet

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 11 stolen bases and has only been thrown out twice.

Playing Her Way In

Walk-on Abbie Ruff has made an impact on the 2004 Hawkeyes and earned a spot in the starting lineup. Ruff, a junior who played two years at Waubonsee Community College, has started the last 12 games at third base. She has made just two errors in 38 chances, and is hitting .222 with six runs scored.

Ruff was a two-time first team All-Skyway Conference at Waubonsee and was named the 2003 Skyway Conference MVP.

Contact Hitter

Sophomore Stacy May is going to make you work to get her out. In 113 at bats, the Reno, NV, native has only struck out three times.

Shutout Central

In a way, it has been an all-or-nothing year for Iowa this season. Nineteen of the 32 games Iowa has played in have been shutouts on one side or another. The Hawkeyes have a 12-7 record in shutouts this season.