Hawkeyes Open Season At Metrodome Tournament

Feb. 12, 2008

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IOWA CITY – Let’s Get it Started ? The University of Iowa softball team opens the 2008 season this weekend in Minneapolis at the Metrodome Tournament. Below is Iowa’s schedule at the tournament.

Friday, Feb. 15
vs. Western Illinois – 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 16
vs. Northern Iowa – 5:30 p.m.
vs. Tennessee Tech – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 17
vs. Arkansas – 9 p.m.
vs. Drake – 1 p.m.

Hawkeyes on the Web ? Fans who can’t make it to the Metrodome Tournament can follow the action at hawkeyesports.com, where live stats (Gametracker) will be available. The link can be found along the right side of the softball schedule page.

Tough Schedule ? Iowa is scheduled to face 13 opponents this season that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2007.

Of those 13 teams, five reached super regional play and three (DePaul, Arizona State and Northwestern) reached the College World Series. Michigan and Florida were both defeated in the super regional round. Ohio State, North Carolina, Stetson, Louisiana-Lafayette, Tennessee Tech, Florida State, Penn State and Illinois State all played in a regional. Hawkeyes in the Polls ? Iowa is one of 26 teams to receive votes in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll.

Opponents in the Polls ? Seven Iowa opponents are ranked in both the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 preseason polls. Arizona State (3rd/2nd), Northwestern (7th/6th), DePaul (10th/8th), Michigan (12th/12th), Florida (13th/13th), Ohio State (23rd/22nd) and Louisiana-Lafayette (24th/20th) are all ranked.

In addition, Illinois State, Florida State and North Carolina are receiving votes in both polls while Tennessee Tech is receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll. Arizona is ranked No. 1 in both polls.

Nichols Named to Watch List ? Senior catcher Emily Nichols has been named to the 2008 USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List. The Portland, OR, native is one of 50 players to be selected. Nichols is the first Hawkeye player named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List.

The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) sponsors the award, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate softball. This is the seventh year the ASA has given the award.

Hope History Repeats Itself ? Senior Emily Nichols hopes to have another offensive season like the one she produced in 2007. Nichols broke Iowa’s career home run record and currently has 33 long balls. She also maintained a 28-game hitting streak, which was the longest in Big Ten history and the seventh longest in NCAA history. The Portland, OR, native also hit .400 or better during the entire 58-game season.

Weil Returns ? Junior Brittany Weil looks to lead the Hawkeyes in the circle this season.

The Garden Grove, CA, native missed the first 24 games last season after being struck in the head with a line drive during practice. She returned to the lineup against Colorado State (March 13) and recorded three of her four double-digit strikeout games in her first three games back.

Weil led the team in wins (18), ERA (1.69), complete games (20), shutouts (9), innings pitched (174) and strikeouts (178).

Put Me in Coach ? Junior Colleen McGlaughlin played wherever she was needed in 2007. The Morton, IL, native started all 58 games, including 24 at second base, 19 at third base, 13 in left field and one at both shortstop and right field.

Award Winners Return ? All five players who garnered postseason awards return in 2008. They include senior Emily Nichols (second team all-Mideast Region, third team all-Big Ten), junior Colleen McGlaughlin (second team all-Mideast Region, third team all-Big Ten), junior Brittany Weil (second team all-Mideast Region, second team all-Big Ten), junior Erin Riemersma (first team all-Big Ten) and senior Summer Downs (second team all-Big Ten).

Everyone Back ? The Hawkeyes return eight of nine starters from last season, including the top eight offensive performers. Senior Emily Nichols led the team with a .400 batting average.

Same Face, New Place ? Two Hawkeyes could be seeing time at new positions in 2008. Sophomore Lindsey Digmann is making the move from second base to left field while junior Colleen McGlaughlin has taken some reps at first base.

No California Love ? Iowa will not face the California Golden Bears during the regular season for the first time since the 1991 season. The Hawkeyes have faced Cal at least once 16 of the 21 seasons under Blevins.

New Assistant Coach ? Shane Bouman is in his first season as pitching coach for the Hawkeyes.

Before coming to Iowa, Bouman served as head coach at South Dakota State for six seasons. He is the winningest coach in school history with 140 victories.

Bouman is also an accomplished softball pitcher. He is a four-time ASA all-American and a two-time NAFA all-American. He led five teams to ASA national championships and competed in nine International Softball Congress Tournaments.

Metrodome Tournament Tidbits ? Two of Iowa’s opponents this weekend feature head coaches who served as assistant coaches at Iowa. Western Illinois Head Coach Holly Van Vlymen was Iowa’s pitching coach from 2001-04 and Drake’s Head Coach Rich Calvert was an assistant from 1997-02.

? Sophomores Taylor Leichsenring and Amanda Zust will be facing former high school teammates when they take on Drake. Kelsey Kahler and Leichsenring were teammates at Clear Creek-Amana while Carrie Hatfield and Zust played together at Des Moines East.

? Sophomores Lindsey Digmann and Katie Brown will also face former high school teammates against Northern Iowa. Digmann and UNI’s Liz Adams both attended Linn-Mar while Brown and Rachel Gerking graduated from Spirit Lake.

? Iowa might have a slight advantage playing in the Metrodome. The Hawkeyes have been practicing in a dome (The Bubble) since January 15.

? The Hawkeyes are 20-18 vs. Western Illinois, 23-14 vs. Northern Iowa, 1-1 vs. Tennessee Tech, 10-18 vs. Arkansas and 30-5 vs. Drake.

? Iowa is 16-14 all-time in season-opening games, including 11-9 under Blevins. The Hawkeyes have won their last three season-opening contests.

? The Metrodome Tournament marks the first time in three seasons Iowa has not opened in the state of Florida.

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