Back On The Road

April 14, 2005

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The Setting
The University of Iowa softball team (33-9, 4-4) travels to Columbus, OH, Friday to face the Ohio State Buckeyes (19-11, 3-3). Game time is set for 3 p.m. The two teams will face off again on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Iowa will then travel to University Park, PA, to square off against the Penn State Nittany Lions (25-14, 3-3). Game one of the doubleheader will begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

Hawkeyes Run Past William Penn
Iowa defeated William Penn on Wednesday, 6-0 at Pearl Field in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes started off slow, but scored five runs in the final two innings to improve their record to 33-9.

The Hawkeyes scored first in the bottom of the third when Mindy Heidgerken led off the inning with a triple to center field and was plated by Jenna Spratt for a 1-0 lead.

Spratt led off the fifth inning with a walk and Stacy May followed with a bunt single, but Spratt was tagged out in a rundown at second. Emily Nichols hit a single, knocking in May to make the score 2-0. Kylie Murray followed with an RBI double, scoring Nichols for the second run of the inning. Iowa scored three runs in the sixth to secure the win.

Six Hawkeyes collected a hit against the Statesmen. Heidgerken went 2-3 with a triple, two RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Ali Arnold picked up her 13th win of the season while Lisa Birocci earned her fifth save.

Scouting Ohio State
The Ohio State Buckeyes are 19-11 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten Conference.

Ashley Cutcliff leads the Buckeye offense. She is batting .450 with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. Megan Schwab leads the team with seven home runs and 30 RBI.

Jamee Juarez is 15-8 with a 2.00 ERA and leads the team with 125 strikeouts.

Iowa leads the all-time series, 52-29.

Last Meeting
The Hawkeys split a doubleheader with the Buckeyes last season. Ohio State took the first game, 5-3 in nine innings, while Iowa bounced back to take game two, 4-0.

In game one, Iowa took a 3-0 lead in the seventh, but couldn’t hold on for the win. Ashley Cutcliff hit a booming home run over the scoreboard in center field and Christina Douglas hit an RBI single in the ninth to give Ohio State the win.

Iowa scored a pair of runs in the first inning of game two to jump out to an early lead. Lisa Birocci hit a two-run home run for an early 2-0 lead. Emily Gerlick blasted a two-run home run in the fourth for the final runs of the game.

Scouting Penn State
The Penn State Nittany Lions are 25-14 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten Conference.

Ashley Esparza leads the Nittany Lion offense. She is batting .437 with 12 doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI.

Esparza is also the Nittany Lion’s leading pitcher. She is 8-2 with a 1.39 ERA. Missy Beseres leads the team with 171 strikeouts.

Iowa leads the all-time series, 30-10.

Last Meeting
Iowa swept Penn State last season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes defeated Penn State, 3-2 in 14 innings in game one and 8-0 in six innings in game two.

With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 14th, the Hawkeyes were able to take advantage of a pair of Penn State errors to break the tie. Natalie Johnson led off with a walk and advanced to third on a throwing error on a Kylie Murray bunt. Stacy May ended the game with a sharp single off the glove of the second basemen, allowing Johnson to score the winning run.

Lisa Birocci threw a one-hit shutout and struck out seven in game two of the series. Iowa scored seven runs in the third off of five hits and a Penn State error.

Hawkeyes in the Rankings
Iowa is ranked 20th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Softball poll and 23rd in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. Other Big Ten teams in the rankings include Michigan (1st/1st) and Northwestern (17th/16th).

Birocci Becomes Strikeout Leader
With seven strikeouts against Northern Illinois, Lisa Birocci became Iowa’s all-time career strikeout leader. Birocci struck out seven of the 10 batters she faced in three innings of relief work to pass former Hawkeye all-American Kristi Hanks. Birocci’s career total stands at 839.

Birocci Earns Big Ten Honor
For the third time this season, Lisa Birocci has been named co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.

Birocci became Iowa’s all-time career strikeout leader against Nothern Illinois, fanning seven of the 10 batters she faced to move into the number one spot.

Birocci finished the week with a 2-0 record, striking out 28 batters and gave up only two earned runs.

Team Sets Home Run Record
Freshman Emily Nichols blasted two home runs against Nothern Illinois, increasing the team total to 42 homers on the season, which shattered the school record for team home runs in a season. The previous school record was 41 home runs, set by the 2003 squad.

Nichols Sets School Record
Freshman Emily Nichols entered the record books against Ball State on March 26, blasting her 11th home run which broke the single-season record. Nichols added another home run against South Dakota State. She leads the team in seven different offensive categories and has a season total of 14 homers.

Swipin’ Bases
Sophomore outfielder Mindy Hiedgerken leads the team with 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts. Abby Ruff is a perfect 5-5 in stolen base attempts.

Hitting Streak
Junior Stacy May is currently riding a six game hitting streak. She is third on the team in batting average (.321) and leads the team in at bats (134), hits (43) and doubles (11).

Gerlick Undergoes Surgery
Junior outfielder Emily Gerlick underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ACL on March 15. Gerlick suffered the ACL tear during Iowa’s opening weekend at the Stetson Invitational on February 13. She will be out for the season.