April 11, 2006
IOWA CITY – The Setting
The University of Iowa softball team (25-14) travels to Macomb, IL, to face the Western Illinois Westerwinds (15-19-1) Wednesday at 5 p.m. The Hawkeyes are riding a five-game winning streak into the mid-week contest and have won 12 of their last 14 games.
On The Air
Wednesday’s game at Western Illinois will be broadcast live on AM-800 KXIC. Brent Balbinot will handle play-by-play commentary.
Hawkeyes Sweep North Dakota State
Iowa defeated North Dakota State, 4-0 and 6-1 in a doubleheader last Sunday. The Hawkeyes collected 16 total hits against the Bison.
In game one, Iowa plated three runs in the first inning for an early lead. Freshman Erin Riemersma hit an RBI single to the center field fence followed by a two-RBI double to the right field fence by senior Kylie Murray. The Hawkeyes added another run in the sixth off an RBI single by junior Emily Gerlick.
Senior Ali Arnold threw her sixth complete game and fourth shutout of the season. She allowed only one hit and struck out six.
In game two, North Dakota State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but Iowa responded in the fourth with an RBI double by sophomore Emily Nichols. The Hawkeyes used a five-run fifth inning to take the lead, capped by a three-run home run by Riemersma.
Freshman Brittany Weil improved her record to 17-8 with the win, throwing a complete game, while striking out three.
Iowa Takes Two From Gophers
The Hawkeyes improved to 4-2 in Big Ten play with two wins (2-0, 3-0) over Minnesota.
Iowa took advantage of two Gopher errors to take the lead in the second inning and scored an insurance run in the fifth off an RBI double by Nichols.
Gerlick was the hero in game two against Minnesota after she belted a two-RBI double to right center field in her first at bat of the contest. The game was scoreless until the sixth when Gerlick recorded the double.
Weil threw two complete games against the Gophers, including a one-hit shutout in game two.
Scouting Western Illinois
The Western Illinois Westerwinds are 15-19-1 overall and 8-3 in Mid-Continent Conference play.
Meghan Strazar leads the Western Illinois offense with a .375 batting average and has 22 RBI. Three other Westerwinds are batting above .300.
The Westerwinds have used four pitchers this season, led by Kamren Ferguson. She is 8-6 with a 2.30 ERA and leads the team with 111 strikeouts.
Western Illinois is coached by Holly Van Vlymen, who served as an assistant coach at Iowa from 2001-04. The all-time series is tied, 18-18.
Hawkeyes Tough At Home
With a 9-0 record at Pearl Field, the Hawkeyes have the best start at home since 1997, when Iowa won 14-straight home games.
The 1997 squad went a perfect 13-0 during the regular season en route to the Big Ten title. Iowa’s only loss at home came in the Big Ten Tournament to Michigan. The Hawkeyes bounced back to beat Michigan State and Michigan in the title game to finish with a 16-1 record at Pearl Field, which is the best home record in school history.
Both Emily’s (Gerlick and Nichols) on the Iowa squad recorded impressive numbers last weekend. Gerlick batted .571 (4-7) with three doubles, three RBI and a 1.000 slugging percentage. Nichols finished last weekend with a .545 (6-11) batting average with three doubles, four RBI and a .818 slugging percentage.
Nichols Feels Right at Home
Sophomore Emily Nichols must like the surroundings at Pearl Field. The Portland, OR, native is batting .480 with two home runs, five doubles and nine RBI in games played at Pearl Field. She also has a .920 slugging percentage and .500 on base percentage in home games.
Gaining an Early Lead
The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents, 56-36 in the first two innings of games this season. Iowa has scored 33 first inning runs and 23 second inning runs and held their opponents to 21 runs and 15 runs in the first and second frames, respectively.
Weil in the Circle
Brittany Weil is having a breakout season as a freshman. The Garden Grove, CA, native is 17-8 with 180 strikeouts. Weil has started 20 games and thrown 18 complete games, six of which have been shutouts.
Call Her Clutch
Junior Mindy Heidgerken might be the person that the Hawkeyes want in the box with runners on base. She is batting .407 with runners in scoring position and .667 with a runner on third and less than two outs. Heidgerken is also batting .441 with two outs in the inning.
Making the Most of Her AB’s
Sophomore Summer Downs has tallied 14 RBI on 20 hits this season. She is batting .230 with four doubles.
Iowa, as a team, has recorded 24 home runs this season. Last season, Iowa set the single season home run record with 61 long balls.
Closing In On School Records
Sophomore Emily Nichols blasted her fourth and fifth home runs of the season against Illinois. Nichols, who has 21 career home runs, only needs nine more home runs to break the Iowa career home run mark of 29, set by Alicia Gerlach (1999-02).
Senior Stacy May has 48 career doubles, which is only four doubles shy of the career record of 52, held by Kari Knopf (1994-97).
May batted .462 (6-13) with three doubles during the opening tournment while Weil went 4-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 18 K’s in her first action as a Hawkeye.
In addition, May was also named to the Capital Classic all-tournament team. May finished the Capital Classic with a .417 batting average and did not commit an error all tournament.
Iowa vs. Michigan on TV
Iowa’s softball contest vs. Michigan on April 15 at Pearl Field will be broadcast to a national cable audience on College Sports Television (CSTV). The game is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start. In addition, the telecast can also be seen statewide on Mediacom’s Connections Channel.
This is the first time in school history that a regular season home game has been televised.