Iowa Travels to Tempe For Littlewood Classic

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Back on the Road
The Hawkeyes return to action February 18-20 at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, AZ. Iowa will face Long Island at 2 p.m. and Arizona State at 7 p.m. Friday, then play Illinois State at 11 a.m. and Arizona State at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Competition will conclude on Sunday when the Hawkeyes square off against Illinois State at 8 a.m. and Long Island at 10:30 a.m. All times are Mountain Time.

Hawkeyes Win Three in Florida
Iowa opened up the 2005 season at the Stetson Invitational in Deland, FL last weekend. The Hawkeyes compiled a 3-1 record. In game one, Iowa defeated Virginia Tech 8-0 in six innings. Stetson defeated Iowa 6-2 in game two on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes bounced back to defeat Virginia Tech on Sunday, 3-2 and picked up their third win against Stetson, 3-0.

Come out Swinging
The Hawkeyes scored three runs in the first inning in both of their games against Virginia Tech. Iowa scored a total of 16 runs and collected 24 hits in four games at the Stetson Invitational.

Hawkeyes in the Rankings
Iowa is listed as receiving votes in both the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and ESPN/USA Softball polls. Michigan is ranked 8th/9th. Illinois is ranked 22nd in the NFCA poll and receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Softball poll. Northwestern and Michigan State are receiving votes in both polls.

Birocci in the Circle
Senior Lisa Birocci collected two wins for the Hawkeyes at the Stetson Invitational. Birocci threw a one-hit shutout and struck out seven against Virginia Tech on Saturday. Birocci pitched four innings against Stetson on Sunday and gave up no runs and one hit while striking out two. In 16.2 innings of work, Birocci walked only two batters.

Going, Going, Gone!
Sophomore Sami Baugh and freshman Emily Nichols both hit home runs against Stetson on Sunday. Nichols’ home run was the first in her career. Baugh hit her second career home run.

Hot Corner
Emily Nichols and Kylie Murray split time at third base last weekend. Nichols started against Virginia Tech Saturday and Stetson Sunday while Murray started the other two games.

Behind the Plate
Sophomore Sami Baugh played all but two innings at catcher during the Stetson Invitational. Freshman Emily Nichols played the other two.

First Time For Everything
Freshman Steph Ackerson saw her first action at pitcher for the Hawkeyes last weekend. Ackerson threw three innings of relief in each game against Stetson. She gave up a combined three runs on eight hits while striking out four in six innings of work. Ackerson did not walk a batter.

Multiple Hits For Hawkeyes
Sophomore Mindy Heidgerken collected multiple hits in both games against Virginia Tech, going 2-3 in both games. Sami Baugh, Natalie Johnson and Emily Nichols also had multiple hit games at the Stetson Invitational.

Movin’ On Up
Senior Lisa Birocci is currently fourth on the career strikeout list with 669 K’s. Junior Ali Arnold is seventh with 266.

Scouting Arizona State
The Arizona State Sun Devils are 5-0 overall this season.

The Sun Devil offense is led by Kim Zadrozny, who is hitting .500 with three RBIs. Valerie Sevilla is batting .462 with two home runs and four RBIs. Ashley Werschky and Katie Burkhart both have a 0.00 ERA. Werschky is 2-0 with 10 innings pitched while Burkhart is 1-0 with seven innings pitched. Desiree Serrano has a 2-0 record with a 1.58 ERA. She leads the team with 13.1innings pitched and 12 strikeouts.

Scouting Illinois State
The Illinois State Redbirds are 6-2 overall this season.

The Redbird offense is led by Kate Stake who is batting .407 with 10 RBIs. Randi Patton is batting .364 with three RBIs. Shannon Nicholson and Stacy Birk share time inside the circle for Illinois State. Both have started four games. Nicholson has a 4-2 record with a 1.09 ERA and 23 strikeouts. Birk has a 2-0 record with a 2.67 ERA and 23 strikeouts.

Scouting Long Island
The Long Island Blackbirds are opening the 2005 season at the Littlewood Classic. They were 27-28 overall and won the Northeast Confernce championship with a record of 16-2 in 2004.

Venturella Promoted
Michelle Venturella enters the 2005 season as Iowa’s first ever associate head coach. Head Coach Gayle Blevins announced the promotion last July. Venturella serves as the Hawkeye recruiting coordinator and hitting coach along with coaching the Iowa catchers. As a member of the USA softball team she garnered four medals, one of which was the gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Bilbao Returns to Iowa
Former all-American Debbie Bilbao has been hired as Iowa’s new assistant coach. Bilbao was head coach at Utah State from 2002-04 before making the move back to Iowa. As a player, Bilbao helped guide the Hawkeyes to three straight College World Series appearaces (1995-97) and still holds three school records. Bilbao will be Iowa’s pitching coach.