Hawkeyes Open Season In Miami

Feb. 7, 2006

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IOWA CITY – Opening Weekend
The University of Iowa softball team opens the 2006 season in Miami, FL at the Diamond Sports Fun and Sun Classic. Iowa will face No. 10/11 Georgia in the season opener on Friday at 11 a.m. and host-school Florida International at 4 p.m. The Hawkeyes will face North Carolina on Saturday at 9 a.m. and Arkansas at 11 a.m. The teams will then be seeded and bracket play will begin Sunday. All times listed are central. Fans can access live stats via www.hawkeyesports.com.

2005 Year In Review
The Hawkeyes had a very successful 2005 campaign, highlighted by trips to both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Region V championship game. Iowa qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time, including the sixth straight season. Iowa finished with a 50-14 overall record and a 12-6 Big Ten record, finishing third in the conference.

Pre-Season Tournament Lineup
Iowa will compete in three new tournaments in 2006. The Hawkeyes return to Florida to play in the Diamond Sports Fun and Sun Classic February 10-12. The NFCA Leadoff Classic will be held February 24-26 in Columbus, GA and features three teams that qualified for the 2005 College World Series. Iowa will also compete in the Coach B Classic, hosted by Southern Illinois on March, 17-19.

The Hawkeyes will return to the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, the National Invitational Softball Tournament in San Jose and the Capital Classic in Sacramento.

Hawkeyes In The Rankings
Iowa is ranked 24th in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll and 19th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.

Tough Schedule in `06
The Hawkeyes are scheduled to face six opponents that appear in both pre-season polls. Iowa will face Georgia (10th/11th) at the Diamond Fun and Sun Classic this weekend. The Hawkeyes will see two ranked opponents at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Tennessee (3rd/3rd), who advanced to the College World Series last season, and Louisiana-Lafayette (21st/18th). Iowa is scheduled to play California (7th/8th) at the National Invitational Softball Tournament (NIST).

Along with Iowa, the Big Ten features three schools ranked in the top 25. Michigan is the top-ranked team in both polls along with Northwestern (15th/16th).

Additionally, the Hawkeyes will face Arizona State, Florida State and North Carolina, all of which are receiving votes in both polls.

Raking in the Honors
Five returning starters received postseason honors in 2005. Senior Kylie Murray and sophomore Emily Nichols were named first team all-regional while senior Stacy May was named second team.

Three returning starters were named to all-Big Ten teams. Junior Mindy Heidgerken was a unanimous first team selection. Murray was named second team while senior Ali Arnold was a third team selection.

Movin’ On Over
Sophomore Summer Downs will make the move to third base after starting nearly her entire freshman year and second base. Downs played in 58 games during the 2005 season and started in 57.

Freshmen To See Some Time
The Hawkeyes have seven freshmen who could all see time in the field. Erin Riemersma will see action at second base, Brittany Weil will accompany Arnold in the circle and Colleen McLaughlin could see action at either third base or left field. Quinn Morelock is also competing for time in right field.

Rachel West, Callie Adreon and Lindsey Emery are also candidates for the outfield.

Splitting Time
Junior Sami Baugh and sophomore Emily Nichols are expected to split time behind the plate this season.

Three Hawkeyes will also see action at first base in 2006. Nichols, along with sophomore Steph Ackerson and senior Brandi Sargent all saw time at first last season.

Returning Power
The Hawkeyes return their top seven hitters from last year’s squad. Stacy May led the team with a .367 batting average, 73 hits and 48 runs scored. Kylie Murray batted .333 with 42 RBI. Emily Nichols broke Iowa’s single-season home record, finishing the 2005 season with 16 homers and a team-leading .607 slugging percentage.

Patient at the Plate
In 2005, Stacy May had 199 plate appearances and struck out only 11 times, walked only 13 times and was hit by a pitch once.

Gerlick Returns
Junior Emily Gerlick returns to the Iowa lineup after missing nearly the entire 2005 season with a torn ACL. Gerlick played in five games last season and started three. She received a medical redshirt and will battle for time in left field. Gerlick was a third-team all-Big Ten selection in 2003.

Arnold Moving Up
Senior Ali Arnold currently ranks sixth on the career strikeout list with 469 K’s. Next on the list is Debbie Bilbao with 476 strikeouts.

Reaching 50 Wins
Iowa reached the 50-win mark for only the third time in school history in 2005. The Hawkeyes eclipsed 50 wins for the first time in 1991 (53-11) and again in 1997 (52-9) when they reached the College World Series.

“Meet the Team” Night
The Hawkeyes will host the second annual “Meet the Team” night Tuesday, February 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Karro Athletics Hall of Fame. Pizza and refreshments will be served followed by a short program hosted by Coach Blevins.

Scott Named Pitching Coach
Amanda Scott has been hired as Iowa’s new pitching coach. Scott began her coaching career at Michigan State where she served as pitching coach from 2002-04. She then pitched professionally for the New York Juggernauts and led them to a National Pro Fastpitch championship in 2004 while earning league M.V.P. honors. Scott served as the Juggernauts pitching coach during the 2005 season.

Scott was a member of the U.S. National Team from 1997-00 and earned a gold medal at the 1998 World Championships. She was also an alternate on the 2000 Olympic Team.

Scott played at Fresno State and graduated as one of the school’s most decorated athletes. She was named Fresno State’s No. 2 greatest athlete of the 20th century and led the Bulldogs to their first NCAA Championship in 1998. Scott also received the NCAA Top VIII Award in 2001, which singles out eight NCAA student-athletes who demonstrate athletic success, academic achievement and community service.