Iowa To Host Hawkeye Classic

March 20, 2007

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IOWA CITY – Home Sweet Home
After playing its first 31 games of the season on the road, the University of Iowa softball team will open the home portion of its schedule this weekend by hosting the Hawkeye Classic. South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Ball State and Northern Illinois will join the Hawkeyes at Pearl Field. Below is a schedule of games for the Hawkeye Classic.

Friday, March 23
3 p.m. North Dakota State vs. Northern Illinois
5 p.m. Iowa vs. South Dakota State

Saturday, March 24
10 a.m. Ball State vs. North Dakota State
12:30 p.m. Iowa vs. North Dakota State
3 p.m. Iowa vs. Ball State
5 p.m. Northern Illinois vs. South Dakota State

Sunday, March 25
10 a.m. South Dakota State vs. North Dakota State
12 p.m. Ball State vs. Northern Illinois
2 p.m. Ball State vs. South Dakota State
4 p.m. Iowa vs. Northern Illinois

Hawkeye Classic Tournament Page
Fans not able to make it to Pearl Field can check out the Hawkeye Classic web page, found in the softball section of Gametracker links for all 10 games of the Hawkeye Classic will be available.

Hawkeyes on the Air
Iowa’s final 31 regular season games will be broadcast via the Internet at Jerry Kiwala and Rob Brooks will handle play-by-play commentary.

The broadcasts are free and can be found in the Hawkeye All-Access section.

Last Week’s Action
Iowa wrapped up its Spring Break trip with a 4-3 record last week. The Hawkeyes dropped a doubleheader to Colorado State (1-0, nine innings, 5-4) before heading to the Capital Classic. Iowa finished the tournament with a 4-1 record, gaining victories over BYU (4-0), Georgia Southern (9-0, six innings), Mercer (13-6) and Santa Clara (3-1). Iowa’s only defeat came against Cal Poly (8-3).

Hitting Streak Snapped
Junior Emily Nichols’ school and Big Ten record hitting streak was snapped last weekend at the Capital Classic. Nichols failed to collect a hit against Mercer on March 16, ending her streak at 28 games.

Her 28-game hitting streak is also the seventh longest in NCAA history.

Nichols Ties Home Run Mark
Junior Emily Nichols tied Iowa’s career home run record with a solo home run against BYU on March 15.

Nichols is tied with former Hawkeye Alicia Gerlach, who hit 29 career home runs from 1999-02.

Nichols set Iowa’s single-season home run mark with 16 long balls as a freshman along with five as a sophomore. She currently has eight home runs this season.

Nichols vs. This Week’s Pitchers
Junior Emily Nichols has hit one home run against the pitchers she will face this weekend.

Nichols is 4-11 with one home run, two doubles and five RBI against South Dakota State’s Kim Westendorf. She is 1-5 lifetime against North Dakota State’s Allison Bakke and 1-1 vs. North Dakota State’s Andi Padilla. Nichols is 4-6 with a double and two RBI against Northern Illinois’ Taryn Hagemann and has no official at-bat against Ball State’s Laura Masch. Nichols drew a bases loaded walk against the Ball State pitcher.

Weil Impressive in Return
Sophomore pitcher Brittany Weil returned to Iowa’s lineup against Colorado State on March 13 with a bang, striking out 12 batters in seven innings of work.

Weil then set a career-high with 15 K’s in a complete game shutout against BYU. She then struck out 11 batters in her second consecutive complete game shutout against Georgia Southern.

Weil threw 23.1 consecutive scoreless innings last weekend and was the first Hawkeye pitcher since 2004 to record three-straight double-digit strikeout performances.

The Garden Grove, CA, native missed the first five weeks of the season with an injury.

Last Year at the Hawkeye Classic
Iowa finished the 2006 Hawkeye Clasic with a perfect 4-0 record to claim the tournament title.

The Hawkeyes defeated Loyola-Chicago (5-0), South Dakota State (5-3, 10 innings), North Dakota State (3-0) and Ball State (5-0).

Sophomore Erin Riemersma and junior Emily Nichols each had solid performances at the plate. Riemersma finished the tournament with a .400 batting average along with two doubles and two RBI. Nichols tallied a .385 batting average with a home run, two doubles and four RBI.

Junior Emily Nichols leads the Hawkeyes in virtually every offensive category. Her team-best numbers include at bats (104), runs (26), hits (47), doubles (10), home runs (8), RBI (27), total bases (83), slugging percentage (.798) and on-base percentage (.496).

Leichsenring Earns Starting Spot
Freshman Taylor Leichsenring started in right field the past nine games. She is batting .394 (13-33) with one RBI and six runs scored since moving to the starting role.

No Sophomore Slump
Sophomore Rachel West has come on strong in the recent weeks.

West tallied a triple in three-straight games at the Buzz Classic and tallied four of her eight RBI at the NIST. She also hit her first career home run against San Jose State at the NIST.

The Burlington, IA, native collected 10 hits, including another triple, three RBI and sevn runs scored last week.

Quick on the Basepaths
As a team, Iowa has stolen 63 bases this season. Sophomore Rachel West leads the team with 15 stolen bases followed by sophomore Erin Riemersma with 10.

Sophomore Lindsey Digmann and senior Mindy Heidgerken have not been thrown out this season. Digmann is a perfect 8-8, while Heidgerken is 7-7.

Scoring Early and Often
The Hawkeyes are outscoring their opponents 36-14 in the first inning and 23-5 in the fifth inning of games this season.

Iowa is outscoring its opponents in every inning except the third and sixth innings.

Iowa Extends Blevins’ Contract
University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta announced that Gayle Blevins’ contract has been extended thru June 30, 2011.

Blevins is the all-time winningest coach in Iowa softball history and has led the Hawkeyes to four College World Series appearances, five Big Ten regular season titles and two Big Ten Tournament championships.

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.