March 26, 2005
IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa softball team defeated Ball State (4-0) and South Dakota State (9-0) in the first day of competition at the Hawkeye Classic on Saturday. The Hawkeyes hit four home runs and allowed only four hits on the day.
Emily Nichols entered the Iowa record books in the bottom of the sixth inning against Ball State, blasting her 11th home run which set the Iowa single-season home run record. The previous record was held by Alicia Gerlach who hit 10 homers in the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Iowa faced Ball State in the first home game of 2005 and came out swinging, knocking out seven hits in the contest. The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning. Brandi Sargent led the inning off with a single to left and advanced to second after a Kylie Murray sacrifice bunt. Lisa Birocci crushed a ball that just stayed inside the foul pole to give Iowa a 2-0 lead. Nichols’ record-breaking home run gave Iowa a 3-0 lead and Natalie Johnson knocked in Steph Ackerson for the final run of the game.
Lisa Birocci pitched her eighth shutout of the season, throwing a two-hit shutout and striking out 11. She is now 15-4 on the season.
The Hawkeye bats stayed alive against South Dakota State in game two. Iowa pounded out 12 hits in the five-inning victory. In the top of the third, Mindy Heidgerken and Jenna Spratt both reached base on bunt singles and Stacy May hit a two-run double to left field to give Iowa the early lead. Nichols followed with yet another home run and the Hawkeyes lead, 4-0. The Hawkeyes scored five runs in the top of the fifth to secure the win. Natalie Johnson hit a two-run double for the first runs of the inning and Abby Ruff hit a two-run home run over the center field fence. The homer was the first of Ruff’s career. The Hawkeyes wrapped up the scoring when Mindy Heidgerken took home after a wild pitch.
Ali Arnold picked up her ninth win of the season. The junior threw five shutout innings and struck out nine batters.
Competition at the Hawkeye Classic will conclude on Sunday. The first game is scheduled for a 10 a.m. start. Iowa will face Ball State (2 p.m.) and North Dakota State (4 p.m.).