Feb. 6, 2007
IOWA CITY – Opening Weekend
The University of Iowa softball team opens the 2007 season in DeLand, FL at the Stetson Tournament. Iowa faces Howard in the season opener Friday at 9 a.m. and Marist at 11:30 a.m. Iowa and Marist will have a rematch Saturday at 9 a.m. before the Hawkeyes face host-school Stetson at 2 p.m. The consolation game will begin Sunday at 10 a.m. with the championship at noon. All times listed are central.
Reaching Another Career Mark
Head Coach Gayle Blevins needs just one more win to reach the 1,100 career-win mark. Additionally, Blevins’ next win will also be her 800th win at Iowa.
Blevins, who has 1,099 career wins, is the third winningest coach in Division I history behind Fresno State’s Margie Wright (1,206 wins) and Florida State’s JoAnne Graf (1,136 wins).
Liking the Sunshine State
For the third year in a row, Iowa will open its season in a Florida tournament. Iowa played in the Stetson Tournament to open the 2005 campaign and the Diamond Fun and Sun Classic in Miami to start the 2006 season.
The Hawkeyes opened their season in Tempe, AZ from 1989-03 and played at Georgia State in 2004.
Last Time in DeLand
Iowa finished the 2005 Stetson Tournament with a 3-1 record, collecting victories over Virginia Tech (8-0, 3-2) and Stetson (3-0). Iowa’s lone loss was a 6-2 defeat against Stetson.
Two Hawkeyes Like DeLand
Seniors Sami Baugh and Mindy Heidgerken both had great opening weekends at the 2005 Stetson Tournament. Baugh finished 4-9 with a home run and two doubles while Heidgerken went 6-13 with one double and one stolen base.
Hawkeyes Receiving Votes
Iowa is one of 14 teams to receive votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball pre-season poll.
Tough Schedule in `07
Iowa is slated to play nine teams that appear in both the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 pre-season polls.
Northwestern (4th/4th), Arizona State (5th/5th), California (10th/10th), Michigan (11th/13th) and Louisville (20th/21st) are ranked in both polls.
North Carolina, BYU, Kansas and Illinois State are receiving votes in both polls.
The Hawkeyes also have to play three ranked teams at their home facilities, including two that advanced to the College World Series in 2006. Iowa faces Arizona State, a CWS team at the Littlewood Classic February 17. Iowa faces Louisville at the Red and Black Tournament February 25 and Northwestern, the national runner-up, in Evanston April 27 and 28.
Shuffling the Infield
The Hawkeye infield will have a new look at some positions in 2007.
The corners of the Iowa infield will keep the same look it had for most of 2006. Junior Emily Nichols will start the season at third base after moving to the position in March of last season. Junior Stephanie Ackerson will start at first base where she is a proven gold-glove. Ackerson played in 55 games in 2006 and recorded a team-best .997 fielding percentage. Junior Summer Downs could also see time at first or third.
New Look Outfield
Iowa’s outfield will have some familiar faces along with some new starters.
Senior Mindy Heidgerken will anchor the Hawkeyes in center field. Heidgerken was a third team all-Big Ten selection in 2006.
Sophomore Quinn Morelock will most likely start in right field. Additional outfielders competing for the position include sophomores Lindsey Emery and Callie Adreon along with freshman Taylor Leichsenring.
Weil Making Her Mark
Sophomore Brittany Weil burst on the scene as a freshman and already has her name in the Hawkeye record books. Weil ranks second in school history for complete games in a season (34), innnings pitched in a season (296) and single-season strikeouts (270).
Weil is also eighth in career strikeouts with 270 and 10th in career complete games with 34, only six behind former Hawkeye Ann Coughenour for ninth place.
Power is Back
Iowa returns four of its top six hitters from last year’s squad. Junior Emily Nichols batted .315 and was second on the team with five home runs and a .475 slugging percentage. Senior Mindy Heidgerken had a .302 batting average and was tied for the team lead with three triples. Junior Summer Downs batted .286 with four home runs and sophomore Quinn Morelock finished with a .277 average.
Five of Iowa’s top seven run producers return from last year’s squad. Junior Emily Nichols led the team with 34 RBI while junior Summer Downs was second with 28 RBI. Senior Mindy Heidgerken knocked in 26 runs, sophomore Erin Riemersma tallied 19 RBI and senior Sami Baugh collected 16 RBI.
Downs Hot In Big Ten Play
The Hawkeyes are glad to have junior Summer Downs in the designated player spot, especially when Big Ten season rolls around. The San Diego native was a first team all-Big Ten pick in 2006 and batted .333 in conference play.
Senior Mindy Heidgerken and sophomore Erin Riemersma started all 61 games for Iowa last season. Heidgerken started every game in centerfield while Riemersma started all 61 games at second base.
West Healthy and Ready
Sophomore Rachel West is healthy and ready to make more of an impact in 2007. West suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery before the 2006 season and also suffered a hand injury during the season.
West’s role was reduced to pinch-running last season, where she led the team with 15 stolen bases.
Hawkeyes Add Five Freshmen
Iowa welcomes a class of five freshmen to the 2007 squad. Katie Brown, Lindsey Digmann, Taylor Leichsenring, and Amanda Zust hail from Iowa while walk-on Heidi Daumen is from Illinois.
Brown and Zust will see time in the circle while Digmann will play scond base. Leichsenring is an outfielder and Daumen is a utility player who can catch or play first base.
Freshmen Win Rainbow Classic
Four of Iowa’s freshmen were members of the Iowa Select All-Star team that won the Rainbow Classic championship in Hawaii over the summer. Those freshmen include Katie Brown (Spirit Lake), Lindsey Digmann (Marion), Taylor Leichsenring (Amana) and Amanda Zust (Des Moines).
Meet the Team Night
Iowa will host the third annual “Meet the Team” night Wednesday, February 7 at 6:30 p.m. on the second level of the Paul W. Brechler Press Box inside Kinnick Stadium. Light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served followed by a short program hosted by Coach Blevins.
Iowa Adds Two New Coaches
Jen Fried and Stacy May are new members of the Iowa coaching staff. Fried is a volunteer assistant and May is a student assistant.
Fried joins the staff from Swarthmore College in Media, PA, where she was an assistant coach from 2005-06. Her duties included designing and implementing daily practices for outfielders along with batting instruction.
Fried played both softball and soccer at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. She was named the Centennial Conference Softball Player of the Year in 2004 and was an all-conference selection from 2001-04.
May was a four-year letterwinner at both third base and shortstop for Iowa from 2003-06. She was named both Big Ten Freshman of the Year and first team all-Big Ten in 2003. May was also a three-time NFCA all-Mideast Region pick and was a two-time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America District 7 selection.
May was drafted by the Chicago Bandits of the National Professional Fastpitch League as the fourth pick in the second round in the 2006 draft. She earned the 2006 Nokona Rookie of the Year award and was also named to the all-NPF team.