May 10, 2008
Evanston, IL – The University of Iowa softball team’s bid for its third Big Ten Tournament title in school history fell just short Saturday, as it fell to No. 12 Northwestern, 1-0. The Hawkeyes were only able to collect two hits off Northwestern pitcher Lauren Delaney, both of which came from sophomore Taylor Leichsenring.
“This was a classic championship game,” Head Coach Gayle Blevins said. “Give credit to Northwestern, they played very well today. I thought Brittany (Weil) had a wonderful performance and our defense played great, highlighted by Lindsey Digmann’s catch in left field. We couldn’t come through with timely hits today, but it was still a great performance.”
Junior Brittany Weil was outstanding in the loss. Weil threw all seven innings and held the dangerous Wildcat offense to just one run on four hits while striking out nine.
“You can’t knock Northwestern’s offense, they can hit the ball,” Weil said. “Any championship game is going to be a battle, and today was no different.”
Weil held a no-hitter threw three and two-thirds innings before giving up the first hit of the game, which was a solo home run to Erin Dyer. Weil had retired 11 of the first 13 batters, with one walk in the first and third innings. She also struck out six batters during that time, including three in a row before giving up the home run.
Iowa had a golden chance in the bottom of the fourth, but could not plate a run. Leichsenring singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Summer Downs. Junior Colleen McGlaughlin was then hit by a pitch to put runners on a first and second with one out. Sophomore Katie Brown followed with a fly ball to center that was caught, but the relay throw back to the infield was dropped and both runners moved up a base. Northwestern pitcher Lauren Delaney managed to get a strikeout with runners and second and third to get out of the jam.
Sophomore Lindsey Digmann robbed Kelly Dyer of an RBI extra base hit with a phenomenal catch in left to keep the score at 1-0. With one out in the inning, Nicole Pauly singled and was sacrificed to second. Dyer dug in and roped a shot to the left field fence, but Digmann jumped against the fence to make a leaping catch, recording the third out of the inning.
Iowa stranded another run in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth. Leichsenring tallied her second infield single of the game and hustled to second on another sacrifice bunt by Downs. Delaney then struck out the next two Hawkeye batters to keep the shutout intact. The Hawkeyes stranded five runners on base, three of which were in scoring position.
“We knew we could create chances,” Leichsenring said. “It was one of those days where we couldn’t string hits together. We played a great tournament and we need to keep our momentum moving forward.”
Brown, McGlaughlin, Digmann and junior Quinn Morelock were named to the 12-person all-tournament team following the championship game.
Iowa will now wait for the NCAA Tournament selection show, which will air at approximately 9 p.m. (CDT) Sunday on ESPNU. After the brackets are revealed, ESPNNews will air a bracket review show at approximately 9:30 p.m. (CDT).
“It would be absolutely great to be at home for NCAA Regionals,” Blevins said. “But we will be ready to go regardless. This is the time of year that you want your team playing. Postseason is such an exciting time and our team is looking forward to the selection show.”