Hawkeyes Survive Against Illini, 4-3

May 7, 2005

Box Score

IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa softball team defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini Saturday, 4-3. The Hawkeyes improved their record to 46-10 overall and 12-5 in Big Ten conference play.

Iowa scored one run in both the first and second innings to gain an early advantage. Stacy May led off the bottom of the first with a walk and Summer Downs beat out a bunt back to the pitcher. Kylie Murray then ripped a line drive that glanced off the Illini pitcher’s glove to load the bases for Emily Nichols, who was hit by a pitch, scoring May for an early 1-0 lead.

In the second, Mindy Heidgerken reached first on a bunt and stole second. She was moved to third on a Jenna Spratt sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead after two innings.

After a scoreless third, the Hawkeyes plated two runs in the fourth. Brandi Sargent singled to lead off the inning and took second on a sacrifice bunt from Heidgerken. Natalie Johnson entered the game as a pinch hitter and responded with a towering home run to the deepest part of Pearl Field to give Iowa a comfortable 4-0 lead.

Illinois made things interesting in the late stages of the game, scoring one run in the fifth and two in the sixth, but couldn’t complete the comeback. Back-to-back Hawkeye errors allowed Molly Lawhead to score the Illini’s first run of the contest in the fifth inning.

Jenna Hall blasted a two-run home run to pull the Illini within one run in the sixth and after two Illinois singles, Ali Arnold relieved Lisa Birocci in the circle. Arnold struck out the first batter she faced in the sixth but a single by Laura Zobrist loaded the bases with only one out. Arnold then calmly struck out the next two batters to help the Hawkeyes escape the inning and earn the victory.

May led the Hawkeyes at the plate, going 2-3 with a run scored. Johnson was 1-2 with two RBI and a run scored.

Birocci improved her record to 26-7 with the win. The senior allowed three runs on five hits and struck out six. Arnold recorded her first save of the season, throwing two innings of relief. She struck out four of the seven batters she faced.

Iowa wraps up the regular season Sunday against Illinois at Pearl Field. Game time is set for 12 p.m. Seniors Abby Ruff and Lisa Birocci will be honored before the game.