April 13, 2006
IOWA CITY – The Setting
The University of Iowa softball team (26-14, 4-2) will host defending NCAA champion Michigan (25-10, 5-1) and current Big Ten leader Michigan State (28-11, 6-0). The Hawkeyes and Wolverines will play single games Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (12 p.m.). Iowa and Michigan State face off in a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. Sunday.
Saturday’s Game Broadcast Live
College Sports Television (CSTV) will broadcast Saturday’s contest between Iowa and Michigan to a live cable audience. Commentators are Tom Hart and Ann Schatz.
Hawkeyes on the Web
Fans who can’t make it to Pearl Field can access livestats (gametracker) via www.hawkeyesports.com. Just click on the gametracker link found on the front page or on the softball schedule page.
Iowa Tops Western Illinois
The Hawkeyes defeated Western Illinois, 5-2 Wednesday at McKee Field in Macomb, IL. Iowa used seven hits and three Westerwind errors for the win.
Iowa scored three runs in the the third inning to take a 3-1 lead over the Westerwinds. Junior Emily Gerlick scored off a Brandi Sargent single for the first run of the frame. Junior Mindy Heidgerken knocked in pinch-runner Rachel West and senior Stacy May with a single for the second and third runs of the inning.
Summer Downs roped a two-RBI single in the sixth for the final two runs of the contest.
The 12th ranked Michigan Wolverines are 25-10 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play.
Samantha Findlay leads the Wolverine offense with a .337 batting average. Findlay also has six home runs and a team-best 28 RBI. Three other Wolverines have a batting average of .300 or better.
The Wolverines have a very tough combination in the circle between Jennie Ritter and Lorilyn Wilson. Ritter is 13-4 with a 0.84 ERA and has amassed 215 strikeouts. Wilson is 10-5 with a 1.38 ERA and has 112 K’s. The two combined have walked only 37 batters.
Michigan is coached by Carol Hutchins, who served as an assistant coach under Gayle Blevins at Indiana. Iowa leads the all-time series, 50-43-1.
Scouting Michigan State
The Michigan State Spartans are 28-11 overall and coming into the weekend, are at the top of the Big Ten standings with a 6-0 record.
Nikki Nicosia has a .336 batting average to lead the Spartan offense. Dayna Feenstra leads the team with six home runs and 31 RBI.
Lesley Noel, Megan Hair and Rachel Turney split time in the circle. Noel is 8-3 with a 0.82 ERA in 12 starts. Hair has started eight games with a 1.80 ERA. Turney tops the team with 106 strikeouts in 19 starts.
The Spartans are coached by Jacquie Joseph. Iowa leads the all time series, 58-26.
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 have been on a tear as of late. In the last five games, Gerlick has batted .500 (5-10) with four doubles, three RBI and a .900 slugging percentage. Nichols has batted .400 (6-15) with three doubles, four RBI and a .600 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, 56-37 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 22 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 183 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 .414 with runners in scoring position and .625 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 16 RBI on 21 hits this season. She is batting .239 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.
Over 50 Free
Men and women ages 50 and older will receive free admission to softball and baseball games (non post-season events) played at Pearl Field and Banks Field during the month of May. This is part of an agreement with the Johnson County Chapter of AARP.
Individuals simply need to show proof of their age (AARP card or driver’s license) upon arrival at the ticket gate.