Iowa Cruises Into Big Ten Tournament Championship Game

May 9, 2008

Box Score

Evanston, IL – The University of Iowa softball team pounded Michigan State, 13-4, in five innings Friday afternoon to advance to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes will take on the winner of the Northwestern vs. Minnesota semifinal at noon Saturday. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

The Hawkeye offense once again was on fire against the Spartans, plating a season-high 13 runs on 11 hits, including two home runs and five extra base hits. Nine of Iowa’s 19 hits in the Big Ten Tournament have been for extra bases, including five home runs, three doubles and one triple. Iowa’s 22 runs in the Big Ten Tournament are the most for a Hawkeye squad since 2001, when the team also plated 22 runs en route to the tournament title.

“Our timely hitting has really come alive in the last two weeks,” Head Coach Gayle Blevins said. “Our team has a strong belief that they can accomplish something special this season. They have a lot of confidence in each other and we are very excited to be playing for a championship tomorrow.”

Iowa scored two runs off three hits in its first at-bat to take an early lead. Senior Summer Downs reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on a double by junior Colleen McGlaughlin. Sophomore Katie Brown walked to load the bases for junior Erin Riemersma, who delivered with a two-RBI single up the middle that plated Downs and pinch-runner Callie Adreon, who entered for Brown.

Iowa starting pitcher Brittany Weil worked out of a jam in the bottom of the first to maintain the lead. After Michigan State started the inning with three-straight singles to load the bases with no outs, Weil struck out the next three batters to calm the Spartan threat.

The Hawkeye bats exploded for seven runs in the second to take a 9-0 advantage. Junior Quinn Morelock started the inning with a double that hit the top of the center field fence, narrowly missing a home run. Sophomore Lindsey Digmann beat out an infield single, moving Morelock to third. Digmann then stole second base and freshman Chelsey Carmody walked to load the bases. Freshman pinch-hitter Lindsey Major hit a grounder that deflected off the Spartan second baseman’s glove, allowing Morelock and Digmann to score.

Downs drew the second walk of the inning to load the bases for McGlaughlin, who tagged an RBI single to left that plated Carmody. Brown and Riemersma tallied back-to-back RBI, both on a fielder’s choice, to make the score 7-0. Brown then scored from third on a passed ball and a hustling Riemersma slid home safely on the same play after the Michigan State catcher could not corral the ball near the backstop to round out the Hawkeye scoring.

Michigan State plated two runs in the bottom of the second and another in the third to cut Iowa’s lead to 9-3.

Two more Hawkeye home runs in the fourth helped Iowa stretch its lead to 13-3. Brown continued her home run tear with a solo shot to right field, making the score 10-3. Brown has now homered in four-straight games. Riemersma followed with a walk and a Morelock single brought up pinch-hitter Jenny Schuelke, who blasted a three-run round-tripper to the bleachers in left field.

The Spartans added another run on an RBI single by Lindsay Hansen in the bottom of the fifth, but couldn’t cut the deficit to under eight runs.

McGlaughlin went 3-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Morelock finished 2-3 with two runs scored.

Brown is now tied for the second-most home runs in Big Ten Tournament history after blasting two on the day.

“Everything is really working right now,” Brown said. “The last few games, we have been very confident in our approach. We just know that if we focus and play hard, we can do anything.”

“We kept the same approach again against Michigan State,” McGlaughlin said. “Our defense and pitching has been very sharp all year and now our offense is producing. We need to keep performing at a high level tomorrow.”

Sophomore Amanda Zust picked up her 14th win, tossing three relief innings. Zust allowed one earned run on only two hits while striking out six. Weil started the game and threw two innings. She allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts.

Iowa will be making its seventh appearance in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament and its first since 2005. The Hawkeyes won the league tournament title in 2001 and 2003.