April 13, 2004
IOWA CITY –
Looking For Win No. 1,000
The University of Iowa softball team will look to give Head Coach Gayle Blevins her 1,000th career win this weekend. She is just two wins shy of that plateau.
Iowa will play a pair of non-conference games this week before a Big Ten showdown with conference co-leader Michigan. The Hawkeyes will travel to Ames Thursday to take on intrastate rival Iowa State at 4 p.m., then host Coe College Friday night at 6 p.m.
On Sunday, Iowa returns to Big Ten play to battle for the top spot in the conference with the No. 9 Michigan Wolverines. Game one of the scheduled doubleheader begins at noon.
Hawkeyes on the Net
Fans unable to attend the game can follow the action at www.hawkeyesports.com, where live stats will be available for all home games this season. Just click on the “gametracker” link on the softball schedule page to follow the Hawkeyes.
The Black and Gold Train Keeps Rolling
The Hawkeyes are coming off a big week where they extended their season-best winning streak to nine games. Iowa defeated Northern Illinois 2-0 in extra innings, then swept a four-game Big Ten series with Indiana (6-0 and 1-0) and Purdue (6-0 and 4-0).
The win over Northern Illinois was as dramatic as they come. The game remained scoreless into the 11th inning until sophomore Kylie Murray blasted a two-run, walk-off home run over the leftfield fence.
On Friday against Indiana, the Hawkeyes were very economical with their offense, getting six runs on six hits. Murray hit a home run for the second-straight game, while Lisa Birocci went the distance in the circle for the win. She allowed only four hits and struck out six.
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes eeked out a 1-0 win over the Hoosiers. Iowa struggled at the plate, collecting only three hits on the day.
Amanda Hentges broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning with an RBI single that plated Natalie Johnson. Birocci picked up the win after pitching three innings of one-hit relief.
In the Easter Sunday doubleheader with Purdue, the Hawkeyes combined some solid hitting with some shaky Boilermaker fielding to take a pair of big wins.
Murray and Stacy May each picked up an RBI in the fourth, then Iowa took advantage of two Purdue errors in the fifth to stretch the lead to 5-0. The Hawkeyes added an insurance run in the sixth.
Birocci took a perfect game into the seventh before giving up the only Boilermaker hit in the first game.
In game two, Iowa scored four runs in the fifth. The biggest play was a two-out dropped pop fly that allowed three Hawkeyes to score.
Birocci picked up her fifth win of the week in two innings of relief.
Countdown to 1,000
Iowa Head Coach Gayle Blevins is closing in on an astonishing milestone. With 998 career victories, the Head Hawk is just two 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 1,115 wins, while JoAnn Graff of Florida State has won 1,040.
Sandy Jerstad of Division II Augustana ended her career last season with 1,014 wins.
Not only is Head Coach Gayle Blevins closing in on 1,000 career victories, she is also approaching a milestone at the University of Iowa.
Blevins’ 1,000th win will also be her 700th win at the University of Iowa.
Scouting Iowa State
The Iowa State Cyclones come into Thursday’s game with a 9-22 record and a 1-6 mark in the Big XII Conference.
The Cyclones’ top hitter is Julia Lindsey, who is hitting a team-best .329 with six stolen bases. Ashley Killeen and Misty Kimura are the power hitters in the lineup, each with four home runs. Killeen also leads the team with 16 RBIs.
In the circle, Alyssa Ranson is Iowa State’s top option. She is 7-12 on the year with a 2.55 ERA.
Iowa State leads the all-time series 24-28-1. They won last year’s game, 4-3 in 12 innings.
The Cyclones are coached by Ruth Crowe, who is in her seventh year with Iowa State.
The Coe College Kohawks come into the week with a 15-11 record and a 2-2 mark in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Kohawks are a good hitting team, with a .304 team batting average. Ashley Wagner leads the squad with a .369 average to go along with six home runs, 15 RBIs and six stolen bases. Sarah Marting is hitting .367 with a pair of homers and 10 RBIs.
In the circle, Marting is 5-4 with a 1.53 ERA. Amy Ernst is also solid on the mound with a 7-3 record and 2.40 ERA.
Coe is coached by Bob Timmons, who is in his seventh year at the helm.
Iowa won the only meeting between the two teams. That game took place in 1979, and the Hawkeyes won 6-1.
The Michigan Wolverines come into the week with a 33-6 overall record and an 8-0 record in the Big Ten. They are ranked No. 9 in the latest NFCA Coaches Poll. The Wolverines enter the week on a 16-game winning streak.
Before coming to Iowa City, Michigan will play Eastern Michigan in a doubleheader, then play a pair of games at Illinois on Friday and Saturday.
Jennifer Olds leads the team with a .367 average. She also has nine home runs and 25 RBIs. Second-team all-Big Ten selection Jessica Merchant is hitting a robust .330 and leads the Big Ten with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs.
The Wolverine pitching staff leads the Big Ten with a microscopic 0.63 team ERA. Michigan pitchers hold three of the top four ERAs on in the Big Ten. Lorilyn Wilson leads the conference with a 0.48 ERA, followed by Nicole Motycka (0.52). Jennie Ritter is in fourth place with a 0.77 ERA.
Ritter leads the staff with a 14-3 record and has 155 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings pitched. Motycka is 13-3 with 94 innings pitched and a team-best seven shutouts. Wilson is a perfect 6-0.
Iowa leads the all-time series 49-39-1. Due to rainouts, the Hawkeyes and Wolverines have met only once in the last two years. Michigan won the last meeting 3-1 in 2002.
Michigan is coached by Carol Hutchins, who is in her 19th season.
Player of the Week
Hawkeye hurler Lisa Birocci was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Tuesday.
Birocci recorded all five Hawkeye victories last week and didn’t allow an earned run in 24 1/3 innings.
It is the first time this season Birocci was named Pitcher of the Week. Teammate Ali Arnold received the honor on March 2.
She Loves Big Ten Play
Sophomore Stacy May has busted out in a big way in Big Ten play, hitting .444 in the conference
May has raised her overall batting average 45 points since conference play has started, from .265 to .310.
Last season, May led the Big Ten in hitting during conference play with a .450 average.
Junior Lisa Birocci is continuing her strikeout rampage this season, and currently leads the Big Ten with 206.
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.
The Hawkeye infield has a pair of walk-on athletes in it. Sophomore Emily Gerlick has started every game at second base this season and is hitting .269 with a team-best five triples. Junior Abbie Ruff has started 22 games at third base.
One Base Isn’t Enough
Senior Sarah Thomson hasn’t felt like stopping at first base during the Big Ten season. The Rocklin, CA, native is hitting .333 in conference play, with six of her eight hits going for extra bases. She has four doubles, a triple and home run.
Her slugging percentage is a .708.
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.