Iowa Softball Travels To Kentucky

Feb. 22, 2005

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IOWA CITY – Next Tournament
The University of Iowa softball team travels to Louisville, KY, this weekend to compete in the Courtyard by Marriott Red and Black Tournament, hosted by the University of Louisville. The Hawkeyes will face Minnesota at 9 a.m. and Louisville at 11 p.m. on Saturday. Iowa squares off against Missouri at 9 a.m. and Ball State at 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Washed Out in the Desert
The Hawkeyes played two of their scheduled six games at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, AZ, last weekend. Iowa defeated Long Island and Arizona State on Friday. All games that were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday were rained out. Junior Ali Arnold pitched a gem against Long Island, throwing six innings of shutout softball, giving up only one hit, while striking out 11. Arnold did not walk a batter. Freshman Summer Downs and junior Natalie Johnson led the Hawkeyes offensively, both going 2-4 with a run scored. Downs also had 2 RBIs. The game was called in the six inning due to rain. Senior Lisa Birocci also pitched well against Arizona State. Birocci threw a one-hit shutout and struck out four Sun Devil batters. Emily Nichols was 2-3 with a run scored to lead the team at the plate.

Meet the Hawkeyes Night
The Iowa softball team will be hosting “Meet the Hawkeyes” night on Wednesday, February 21 at the Roy G. Karro Athletics Hall of Fame. Players and coaches will be available for interviews at 6:30 p.m. with a program to follow at 7:30. This will also serve as media day for the Hawkeye softball team.

Hawkeyes in the Rankings
Iowa is listed as receiving votes in both the Softball and the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association polls. Michigan is rated 9/8. Illinois and Northwestern are receiving votes in both polls.

Nichols Hitting Well
Freshman Emily Nichols came on strong at the Littlewood Classic. Nichols was 1-1 with a walk and a sacrifice fly against Long Island while going 2-3 with a run scored against Arizona State. Nichols is leading the team with a .429 batting average and a .786 slugging percentage.

Back, Back, Back
Freshman Summer Downs hit her first career home run against Arizona State last Friday. She was a combined 3-6 with three RBIs and two runs scored at the Littlewood Classic.

Catch me if you Can
Three Hawkeyes have two stolen bases on the year. Mindy Heidgerken, Steph Ackerson and Emily Gerlick all have swiped two bases.

Racking in the RBIs
Mindy Heidgerken and Summer Downs are hitting well with runners in scoring position. Heidgerken is batting .571 with 4 RBIs and Summer Downs is batting .400 with 4 RBIs.

Movin’ On Up
Senior Lisa Birocci is currently fourth on the career strikeout list with 675 K’s. Junior Ali Arnold is seventh with 277.

Scouting Minnesota
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are 7-4 this season. The Golden Gopher offense is led by Stephanie Sward who is batting .400. Megan Higginbotha is hitting .321 with 5 RBIs. Lyn Peyer is 3-2 inside the circle with a 0.88 ERA with 40 strikeouts. Katie Dalen is 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA. Iowa leads the all-time series, 43-36.

Scouting Louisville
The Lousiville Cardinals are 8-5 this season. Courtney Moore leads the Cardinal offense, batting .475 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. Sara Bausher is hitting .256 with four home runs. Catherine Bishop is 5-1 with a 0.89 ERA. Aja Sherman has a 3-4 record with a 1.88 ERA. Both pitchers have 39 strikeouts. The all-time series record is tied, 2-2.

Scouting Missouri
The Missouri Tigers are 8-1 this season. The Tiger offense is led by Micaela Minner who is batting .440 with five home runs and 14 RBIs. Ashley Hays is hitting .400 with 3 RBIs. Erica Peterson is 5-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 41 strikeouts. Missouri leads the all-time series, 8-6.

Scouting Ball State
The Ball State Cardinals are 1-3 this season. Taylor Yancey leads the Cardinal offense with a .462 batting average and a .615 slugging percentage. Kelli Jeziorski is batting .444 for the Ball State. Nicki Hellem is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA inside the circle. Iowa leads the all-time series, 8-0.

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.