May 20, 2004
LINCOLN, NE – The University of Iowa softball team was defeated by Mississippi State, 2-1, in eight innings Thrudsay at Bowlin Field in Lincoln, NE. The Hawkeyes will continue in the consolation bracket of the double-elimination NCAA Region V Tournament tomorrow at 10 a.m. against the loser of the California-Maine game.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the eighth inning, Mississippi State got a one-out double from Jennifer Waterman, who was replaced at second by pinch runner Keri McFarling. Blaire Brown then bounced back to Iowa pitcher Lisa Birocci, but Birocci’s throw to first base was wild, allowing McFarling to come home with the winning run.
“I was just thinking that I needed to get a sure out,” Birocci said. “I glanced over at third and then went to first, but the throw wasn’t there. Now, it’s just important to re-focus for tomorrow’s game. We need to forget about today and come back tomorrow.”
With the score tied at zero, the Hawkeyes had a golden opportunity to score in the top of the second when they loaded the bases with one out. A fielder’s choice and a line out ended the threat.
Mississippi State used a trio of hits to push the first run of the game across the plate in the bottom of the fourth. Hayle Guess picked up the RBI on a single to center.
The Hawkeyes scored on a wild play which began with a catcher’s interference call and ended with Mississippi Coach Jay Miller being ejected. With runners on first and third, Kylie Murray laid down a sacrifice bunt and was forced to avoid Waterman, who was coming from behind the plate to pick up the bunt. Murray then slammed into first baseman Kate Jaspers, and Natalie Johnson scored. Murray was awarded first base on the catcher’s interference call, while Miller was ejected arguing the call.
Iowa had a chance to score in the top of the eighth, getting a leadoff double from Johnson, who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Amanda Hentges. Stacy May then hit a sharp grounder to third, catching Johnson off third for the second out. A fly out to right ended the threat.
Hawkeye starter Ali Arnold pitched four innings, allowing five hits and one run while striking out five. Birocci threw the final 3 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out five.
“I thought our pitching gave us a good opportunity to win,” Iowa Head Coach Gayle Blevins said. “Ali did a really good job to start, but struggled a bit before we pulled her. Lisa came in and did a nice job in relief. We just continue to struggle offensively. We haven’t gotten a lot of quality at bats in the last four or five games. There were some missed opportunities today.”
Iowa falls to 38-23 on the year. The Hawkeyes have lost four-straight games dating back to the regular season.