Hawkeyes Head To Big Ten Tournament

May 9, 2006

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IOWA CITY – The Setting
The University of Iowa softball team (39-19, 12-7) travels to Evanston, IL to compete in the 2006 Big Ten Softball Tournament. Iowa is the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 seed Indiana (28-22-1, 8-9) in opening round play Friday at 9 a.m.

This season marks the first time the league tournament has not been held in either Iowa City or Ann Arbor. Iowa and Michigan have hosted the previous 12 tournaments.

Below is a schedule of games for the Big Ten Tournament. All times listed are central.

Thursday, May 11
Game 1 – #2 Michigan vs. #7 Michigan State, 2 p.m.
Game 2 – #1 Northwestern vs. #8 Illinois, 4:30 p.m.

Friday, May 12
Game 3 – #3 IOWA vs. #6 Indiana, 9 a.m.
Game 4 – #4 Ohio State vs. #5 Penn State 11:30 a.m.
Game 5 – Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 3, 2 p.m.
Game 6 – Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 2, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 13
Championship Game – 12 p.m. (Live on CSTV)

On the Air
Should Iowa make it to the semifinals Friday or the championship game Saturday, AM-800 KXIC will broadcast the contests live. Steven Grace will handle play-by-play commentary.

Hawkeyes on the Web
Fans who can’t make it to the Big Ten Tournament can access free live streaming video via www.hawkeyesports.com. Just click on the All-Access link at the top of the home page.

Live stats (gametracker) will be available for all Iowa games on www.hawkeyesports.com. Click on the gametracker link found on the front page or on the softball schedule page. Gametracker for all Big Ten Tournament games can be found on www.nusports.com.

Hawkeyes In the Big Ten Tourney
The Iowa Hawkeyes have a 19-18 all-time record in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Hawkeyes have won two Big Ten Tournament titles, claiming the 2000 and 2003 titles. The 2003 tournament was held in Iowa City.

Last season, Iowa defeated Penn State (1-0) and Northwestern (2-1, eight innings), but fell to top-ranked Michigan (7-2) in the championship game.

Another Milestone Approaching
Iowa Head Coach Gayle Blevins is just one win shy of reaching 1,100 career victories and 800 wins at Iowa.

Blevins is in her 19th year as Iowa’s head coach and her 26th season overall.

Weil Making Her Mark
Freshman pitcher Brittany Weil is already making her mark in the Iowa softball record books. Her 246 strikeouts this season ranks fifth for single-season strikeouts and eighth in career strikeouts at Iowa. Weil has thrown 31 complete games this season, which also ranks second in school history.

In overall games, Weil leads the Big Ten in wins (27), innings pitched (271.1) and games started (34). In Big Ten games only, she leads the conference in innings pitched (119.2), games started (17) and batters struck out looking (30). Weil is tied for first in wins (12) and appearances (19).

Ducks on the Pond
The Hawkeyes might want sophomore Emily Nichols at the plate with runners on base. Nichols leads the team with 34 RBI and is batting .400 with runners in scoring position. She also has a .667 average with a runner on third and less than two outs.

Closing In On School Records
Sophomore Emily Nichols blasted her fifth home run of the season against Illinois on April 1. Nichols, who has 21 career home runs, only needs nine more to break the Iowa career home run mark of 29, set by Alicia Gerlach (1999-02).

Senior Stacy May has 51 career doubles, which is only one double shy of the career record of 52, held by Kari Knopf (1994-97).

Winning With the Long Ball
The Hawkeyes are a combined 22-0 when either Stacy May, Kylie Murray, Emily Nichols or Erin Riemersma hits a home run.

Iowa is 6-0 when either May or Murray goes deep and 5-0 when Nichols or Riemersma clears the fence.

Downs Riding Hit Streak
Sophomore Summer Downs brings a 10-game hitting streak into the Big Ten Tournament. Downs has collected 14 hits in her last 10 games, including a perfect 3-3 performance against South Dakota State.

Liking the Road
Both Mindy Heidgerken and Stacy May have batting averages over .300 in away games.

Heidgerken is batting .348 with two home runs, two doubles and 11 RBI, while May has a .324 average with one home run, five doubles and seven RBI.

Coming On Strong
In the last 12 games of the regular season, senior Kylie Murray recorded a .394 batting average and belted three of her six home runs. She also tallied three doubles and three RBI.

Reaching 40 Wins
The Hawkeyes need just one more victory to reach the 40 win mark. Iowa has eclipsed 40 victories 11 times in school history, all of which came under Head Coach Gayle Blevins.

Iowa has qualified for the NCAA Tournament nine of the previous 11 seasons it has won over 40 games.

Scouting No. 1 Northwestern
The 12th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats are 40-11 overall and 16-3 in conference play.

The potent Wildcat offense is led by Garland Cooper, who is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year. Cooper is batting .386 with eight home runs, 20 doubles and 36 RBI. Tammy Williams tallied a team-best 12 home runs during the regular season.

Both Eileen Canney and Courtnay Foster have sub-two ERA’s. Canney is 20-5 with a 1.00 ERA and has 298 K’s. Foster is 20-6 with a 1.75 ERA.

Iowa trails the all-time series, 41-43. Northwestern swept a doubleheader against Iowa this season in Evanston.

Scouting No. 2 Michigan
The 13th-ranked Michigan Wolverines enter the Big Ten Tournament with a 37-13 overall mark with a 14-4 Big Ten record. Michigan defeated Iowa to claim the 2005 Big Ten Tournament title.

The Wolverine offense boasts four players with a .300 average or better, led by Becky Marx who has a .336 average. Marx also leads the team with 11 home runs and 41 RBI.

Michigan’s tandem of Jennie Ritter and Lorilyn Wilson have combined for 486 strikeouts, 351 of which have come from Ritter. She has a 24-6 record with a 0.70 ERA.

Iowa leads the all-time series, 51-44-1. The Hawkeyes and Wolverines spilt a pair of games earlier this season in Iowa City.

Scouting No. 4 Ohio State
The Ohio State Buckeyes are 37-20 overall and 11-7 in Big Ten action.

Brittany Vanerink has a .350 batting average to pace the Buckeyes. Both Chelsea Baker and Courtney Pruner have seven home runs, while Billie Carder has a team best 34 RBI.

Kim Reeder and Jamee Juarez have seen the majority of time in the circle. Reeder has compiled a 16-9 record with a 1.69 ERA. Juarez is 16-10 and leads the staff with 185 strikeouts.

Iowa leads the all-time series, 56-29. Iowa defeated Ohio State, 5-2 at Pearl Field . Game two of the series was rained out.

Scouting No. 5 Penn State
The Penn State Nittany Lions enter the postseason with a 37-14 overall record with a 10-10 Big Ten mark.

Ashley Esparza has a .321 batting average to lead the Nittany Lions at the dish. Penn State has two players with five and four home runs, respectively.

Missy Beseres is 19-7 with 223 strikeouts to pace the Nittany Lion pitching staff. Both Beseres and Jenn Reynolds have a 1.13 ERA.

Iowa leads the all-time series, 34-11. Penn State and Iowa split a doubleheader at Pearl Field this season.

Scouting No. 6 Indiana
The Indiana Hoosiers are 28-22-1 overall and 8-9 in conference action.

Lauren Hines boasts a .417 batting average. She also leads the team with nine home runs and 27 RBI.

Mariangee Bogado is the leading Hoosier hurler with a 19-8 record and 274 strikeouts.

Iowa leads the all-time series 51-28-1. The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers split a doubleheader this season in Bloomington.

Scouting No. 7 Michigan State
The Michigan State Spartans travel to Evanston with a 34-24 overall record, including a 9-11 Big Ten mark.

The Spartan offense is sparked by Nikki Nicosia and Dayna Feenstra. Nicosia tops the team with a .303 batting average, while Feenstra leads the team with nine home runs and 41 RBI.

Rachel Turney and Lesley Noel split time in the circle. Turney has tallied 135 strikeouts with a 17-12 record while Noel has a team-best 2.15 ERA.

Iowa leads the all-time series, 59-27. Michigan State and Iowa split games this season in Iowa City.

Scouting No. 8 Illinois
The Illinois Fighting Illini are 24-30 overall and 8-11 in Big Ten play.

Jenna Hall has a .484 batting average with 13 home runs and has drawn 59 walks.

Claire DeVreese and Kacey Coonce have each seen time in the circle. DeVreese is 18-18 with a 4.17 ERA.

Iowa leads the all time series, 9-6. Iowa won a pair of games over Illinois this season in Champaign.