Hawkeyes Head Home

March 22, 2005

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Welcome Home Hawks
The University of Iowa softball team opens its home portion of the 2005 schedule on Wednesday with a doubleheader against Illinois State. The first game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start with game two to follow at approximately 5:15 p.m.

Iowa will host the Hawkeye Classic on March 26-27. The tournament consists of round-robin play. The champion of the tournament will be determined by win/loss record. Below is a schedule of the tournament.

Saturday, March 26
10 a.m. Ball State vs. North Dakota State
12 p.m. South Dakota State vs. North Dakota State
2 p.m. Iowa vs. Ball State
4 p.m. Iowa vs. South Dakota State

Sunday, March 27
10 a.m. South Dakota State vs. North Dakota State
12 p.m. South Dakota State vs. Ball State
2 p.m. Iowa vs. Ball State
4 p.m. Iowa vs. North Dakota State

Spring Break in California
The Hawkeyes went a combined 4-1 over spring break in California. Iowa defeated Rhode Island (6-0) and Pacific (4-2) at the Pacific Mini Tournament while defeating Utah (13-7). The Hawkeyes fell to Oregon State (6-2) but bounced back with a victory over Long Island (8-0) at the Capital Classic.

Scouting Illinois State
The Illinois State Redbirds are 19-5 overall and 3-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Jen Wright leads the Rebird offense. She is batting .425 with five doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. Kate Stake is batting .414 with four home runs and 21 RBI.

Shannon Nicholson is 10-5 with a 1.25 ERA inside the circle for the Redbirds. Stacy Birk leads the team with 54 strikeouts.

Iowa holds a 28-14 advantage in the all-time series.

Scouting Ball State
The Ball State Cardinals are 6-15 this season.

Kelli Jeziorski leads the Cardinal offense. She is batting .333 with five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI. Amanda Pick is batting .293 with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.

Nicki Hellem is 2-4 with a 3.95 ERA inside the circle. Amy Brownfield leads the team with 30 strikeouts.

Iowa holds a 9-0 advantage in the all-time series.

Scouting South Dakota State
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are 13-6 this season.

Offensively, Steph Kuhl is batting .389 with one double, four home runs and 15 RBI. Ashley Kalina is batting .333 with four doubles, one triple, four home runs and 14 RBI.

Kim Westendorf is 7-3 with a a 2.92 ERA and 61 strikeouts inside the circle.

This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Scouting North Dakota State
The North Dakota State Bison are 14-9 this season.

Offensively, Erin Troup is batting .352 with five doubles and three RBI. Lynnae Foshag is batting .278 with four doubles, one home run and 12 RBI.

Inside the circle, Amber Garrett has a 5-1 record with a 1.34 ERA. Allison Bakke is 6-6 with a 1.97 ERA and leads the team with 110 strikeouts.

This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Hawkeyes in the Rankings
Iowa is ranked 23rd in the ESPN.com/USA Today Collegiate Softball poll. The Hawkeyes are listed as receiving votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. Other Big Ten teams in the rankings include Michigan (4th/5th) and Northwestern (25/23).

Arnold Throws No-No
Junior Ali Arnold threw her first career no-hitter against Rhode Island at the Pacific Mini Tournament. Arnold allowed only one walk and one runner reached base by error. She struck out 11 batters in the contest.

Nichols Ties School Record
With 10 home runs this season, freshman Emily Nichols has tied the school record for home runs in a season. Nichols blasted her 10th home run against Utah last week. She shares the record with Alicia Gerlach, who hit 10 home runs in both the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

Movin’ On Up
Senior Lisa Birocci is currently fourth on the career strikeout list (787). Junior Ali Arnold is seventh (368). Birocci needs just five more strikeouts to move into third place while Arnold needs 22 more strikeouts to move into sixth place.

Have We Met?
Iowa faced Ball State at the Courtyard by Marriott Red and Black Tournament earlier this season. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cardinals, 8-0 in six innings. Ali Arnold threw a two-hit shutout and recorded 11 strikeouts. Summer Downs and Jenna Spratt both collected multiple hits for Iowa. Downs went 3-4 with a double and two RBI while Spratt was 2-4 with two runs scored.

Weinberg Joins Team
Senior Barb Weinberg has joined the Iowa softball team. Weinberg was a two-time all-American and three-time all-Big Ten goalkeeper for the Iowa field hockey team. She was selected to the U.S National field hockey team in January.

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 appearances (1995-97) and still holds three school records. Bilbao will be Iowa’s pitching coach.