Iowa Ready For UNI, Ohio State, Penn State

April 19, 2004

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The Week Ahead

The University of Iowa softball team will finish its current nine-game homestand this week with six games in the friendly confines of Pearl Field. Iowa will play a non-conference doubleheader with UNI on Tuesday at 4 p.m., then head into Big Ten play on the weekend. Iowa will battle Penn State on Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (Noon), then take on Ohio State in a Sunday doubleheader starting at noon.

Hawkeyes on the Net

Fans unable to attend the game can follow the action at, 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.

No. 1,000

With a 9-1, five-inning win over Coe College Friday night, Head Coach Gayle Blevins became just the third coach in Division I history to win 1,000 games.

Iowa pounded out 14 hits on the Coe pitching staff, led by Natalie Johnson, who was 3-of-4 with a home run. Freshman Sami Baugh was 3-for-3 with her first-career home run.

In the circle, Ali Arnold threw a five-inning one hitter, allowing just one run and striking out nine.

On the week, Iowa was 2-2 with wins over Iowa State (4-0) and Coe, and a pair of losses to Michigan (3-1, 3-1).

Against Iowa State, Lisa Birocci stymied the Cyclone bats by throwing a three-hit shutout and striking out 10. She also was 1-of-2 with a two-run home run.

On Sunday, the Hawkeye hitters were shut down by a very impressive Michigan pitching staff.

In game one, Michigan took a first-inning, 2-0 lead and never looked back. After the Wolverines upped their lead to 3-0, Iowa made a last-ditch comeback in the bottom of the seventh. The Hawkeyes managed to get one run across, but Nicole Motyka entered the game and picked up the save for Michigan.

In game two, it was more of the same as Michigan took an early lead and held off a late rally from Iowa. Trailing 3-1 in the seventh, Iowa brought the winning run to the plate for the second-straight game, but were unable to convert.

1,000 and Beyond

Iowa Head Coach Gayle Blevins reached an astonishing milestone last weekend, winning her 1,000th career game.

Only two other Division I coaches have hit the millennium mark. Fresno State coach Margie Wright has 1,119 wins, while JoAnn Graff of Florida State has won 1,044.

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

700 Club

Not only has Head Coach Gayle Blevins won her 1,000th career game, but Friday’s win over Coe was also her 700th at the University of Iowa.

Scouting Northern Iowa

The Northern Iowa Panthers are currently 10-27 with a 4-12 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Erin Strellner leads the team in batting average with a .282 mark. She has 11 doubles on the year and 10 RBIs. Rachel Rogers leads the team with six home runs and 17 RBIs.

The Panthers primarily use three pitchers, Malinda McClintock (4-8, 3.37 ERA), Julie Gerdes (3-10, 3.10 ERA) and Julie Phillips (3-9, 2.88 ERA).

Iowa leads the all-time series with Northern Iowa 21-14.

Scouting Penn State

The Penn State Nittany Lions come into the week with a 18-25 record and a 4-6 mark in the Big Ten Conference.

The Penn State offense is led by Meghan Wolfer, who has a team-best .328 batting average. Jen Williams is hitting .323 with a Big Ten leading 24 stolen bases.

Missy Beseres is the Nittany Lions’ top pitcher, with a 8-13 record and 2.11 ERA. She has 148 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings pitched.

Iowa leads the all-time series 28-10.

Penn State is coached by Robin Petrini, who is in her eighth season.

Scouting Ohio State

The Ohio State Buckeyes enter the week with a 26-17 mark and a 3-7 record in the Big Ten Conference.

The Buckeye offense is led by Chelsea Baker, who is hitting .377 with two home runs and nine RBIs. The power source of the lineup is Jamee Juarez. The freshman is hitting .303 with four home runs and a team-leading 30 RBIs.

Juarez is also the Buckeyes’ pitching ace. She is 12-6 with a 1.79 ERA. Juarez has 102 strikeouts in 117 innings pitched. 2001 All-Big Ten selection Kristi DeVires is 8-9 with a 1.71 ERA. She has 124 strikeouts in 102 1/3 innings pitched. Baker is the Buckeyes’ third starter, and is 6-2 on the year.

The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 51-27.

Ohio State is coached by Linda Kalafatis, who is in her eighth season.

Put That On Her U-Bill

Iowa right fielder Natalie Johnson had some explaining to do to the facilities people at Pearl Field after Iowa’s 9-1 win over Coe Friday night.

Johnson’s home run in the bottom of the fifth hit the very top of the scoreboard in center field, putting a hole just under the “A” in University of Iowa.

The monster shot was Johnson’s team-leading fourth of the season.

The Streak is Over

Junior Lisa Birocci’s scoreless inning streak of 32 was snapped in the first inning of game one against Michigan Sunday.

Before that, the last run Birocci gave up was in the sixth inning against Michigan State on April 4.

She Loves Big Ten Play

Sophomore Stacy May continues to tear up Big Ten pitching, coming in at a .424 clip in conference play.

May has raised her overall batting average over 35 points since Big Ten play has started, from .265 to .303.

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

Strikeout Machine

Junior Lisa Birocci is continuing her strikeout rampage this season, and currently leads the Big Ten with 220.

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.

Hitting When it Counts

The Hawkeyes’ team batting average improves significantly when they have a chance to score.

With nobody on, Iowa’s team batting average is .264. However, with runners in scoring position, the team’s batting average jumps to .298, a difference of 34 points.

Not a Rally Killer

Hawkeye leftfielder Amanda Hentges won’t end an inning at that plate, and is hitting .343 with two outs. She also has 11 two-out RBIs.

Overall, Hentges is hitting .273.

Walk-on Success

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.

We Have Liftoff

Freshman Sami Baugh hit her first-career home run last Friday in Iowa’s 9-1 win over Coe.

Baugh was on a tear last week, hitting .455 with a home run and a .727 slugging percentage.

Triple Threat

Sophomore Emily Gerlick has been putting her wheels to good use. She currently leads the Big Ten Conference with five triples.

The Wonder Lake, IL, native is just three short of the Iowa single-season record.

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.