Feb. 16, 2011
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The University of Iowa softball team returns to action this weekend, heading to Tempe, Ariz., for the Littlewood Classic. The Hawkeyes open the tournament against Idaho State Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. before squaring off against Seattle University at 1 p.m. On Saturday, Iowa plays Illinois State at 3:30 p.m. before facing No. 9/12 Arizona State in the night cap at 8 p.m.
ON THE WEB
Fans can follow the action at hawkeyesports.com, where live stats (Gametracker) will be available. The live “GT” can be found under the calendar tab on the right-hand side of the hawkeyesports.com home page, or on the softball schedule page.
The Hawkeyes posted a 1-4 overall record on the opening weekend of the season at the Red & Black Showcase in Athens, Ga. Iowa dropped a 5-4 decision to Lipscomb before downing Maryland, 1-0, on Feb. 11. The Hawkeyes closed out the weekend with three consecutive losses against East Carolina (1-0), No. 3/4 Georgia (8-1) and Illinois State (13-4).
Idaho State, which faces Iowa in its season-opener in Tempe, was picked to finish fifth in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Mountain Division in 2011. Last season the Bengals posted a 14-39 overall record. The Bengals are led by first year head coach Julie Wright.
Seattle University brings a winless record into the weekend after dropping all five contests at the UCSB Gaucho Classic. The Redhawks scored three runs in their five games and committed 13 errors. Allegra Wilde is pacing Seattle with five hits and a .357 batting average, while Jessica Ulrich has a 3.65 earned run average with one complete game.
Illinois State won four-of-five games last weekend at the Red & Black Showcase in Athens, Ga. The Redbirds lone defeat came against No. 3/4 Georgia, falling 2-1. Four Illinois State players are batting over .350 on the year with Kara Nelson leading the way with a .563 average. Abby Olson is batting .438 with six RBI and four extra base hits. In the circle, Megan Warner is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with 23 strikeouts.
Arizona State enters the weekend with a 5-1 record. The Sun Devils, which are ranked No. 9 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA rankings, are batting .315 as a team and have scored 40 runs in six contests. Dallas Escobedo, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week, is pacing the pitching staff with a 4-0 record and a 1.15 ERA. The freshman has two complete games, one shutout and 28 strikeouts this season.
? The Hawkeyes are a combined 46-39 against the four opponents they will face in the Littlewood Classic. Iowa is 2-0 against Idaho State, 34-18 against Illinois State and 10-21 against Arizona State. Friday’s meeting against Seattle University will be the first meeting in the series.
? Idaho State head coach Julie Wright spent the last four years as the associate head coach at Wisconsin.
? Arizona State run ruled two teams (Western Michigan (17-0), San Jose State (11-3). The Sun Devils lone defeat came against Utah in extra innings, 3-1.
MASSEY SHINES IN FIRST CAREER START
Freshman Kayla Massey pitched a complete game shutout in the first start of her career, a 1-0 victory over Maryland on Feb. 11. The California native scattered four hits in seven innings, while striking out nine Terrapin batters.
BLAST OFF IN OPENING AT-BAT
Jenny Schuelke opened her senior season in grand fashion, belting a three-run first inning home run on Feb. 11 against Lipscomb. The blast was the Solon, Iowa, native’s 11th career long ball.
Junior Katie Keim has played three different positions for the Hawkeyes in the first five games. The Missouri native played first base in the season-opener before moving over to third base in game two. Keim closed out the weekend making three straight starts at second.
CAREER HOME RUN NO. 15
Junior Liz Watkins connected on her 15th career home run in leading Iowa to the 1-0 victory over Maryland. The Illinois native hit a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth inning, and it proved to be the game-winning shot.
LYON NOTCHES CAREER-HIGH
Sophomore Chelsea Lyon finished with a career-best seven strikeouts in Iowa’s 1-0 loss to East Carolina Feb. 12. The Oklahoma native scattered six hits in 6.1 innings, allowing a single unearned run.
FIVE GAMES TO BE TELEVISED ON BTN
Five Iowa softball games will be televised live on the Big Ten Network this season. Hawkeye road games at Purdue (Apr. 3), the doubleheader at Minnesota (Apr. 13) and home contests against Northwestern (Apr. 17) and Penn State (May 8) will all be broadcast live.
The Hawkeyes have a youth-filled roster in 2011, as 11 of the 16 student-athletes are underclassmen. The Iowa roster is comprised of three seniors, two juniors, six sophomores and five freshmen.
MOVIN’ ON UP
A pair of Hawkeyes are among the career statistical leaders in school history. Junior Liz Watkins is 13th with 15 career home runs. Senior Chelsey Carmody is tied for 15th with 95 career runs scored, while sitting just outside the top 10 in career triples with nine.
CARMODY BACK TO ANCHOR INFIELD
Senior Chelsey Carmody returns to anchor the infield for the Hawkeyes after starting 47-of-48 games during her junior season. The Missouri native made 34 starts at shortstop a season ago, finishing with a .327 batting average and a team-best 51 hits, seven home runs and 32 RBI.
TWO-TIME ALL-BIG TEN SELECTION RETURNS
Two-time all-Big Ten selection Liz Watkins returns behind the plate for her junior season in Black and Gold. Last season, Watkins was a second team all-Big Ten selection after batting .328 with seven doubles, five triples, five home runs and 26 RBI. As a freshman, Watkins was a third team all-Big Ten honoree, hitting .331 with nine jacks and 45 RBI.
IN THE CIRCLE
Sophomore Chelsea Lyon returns as the most experienced pitcher on the Hawkeye staff after appearing in 29 games as a true freshman. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native posted nine victories with a 2.95 earned run average. She struck out 48 batters in 102.0 innings.
Freshman Kayla Massey joins the collegiate ranks after earning ESPN Third Team All-America honors as a senior at Trabuco Hills High School. The California native posted a 0.32 ERA in 2010 and struck out a school record 250 batters in 2010.
FROM CALI TO THE MIDWEST
One fourth of Iowa’s roster is comprised of players from the state of California. Senior Stephanie Ochoa (Stanton) is joined by a trio of freshmen in Brianna Luna (Indio), Nikki Gentile (Martinez) and Kayla Massey (Foothill Ranch).
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
For the first time since 1988, the Hawkeyes will have a new head coach in charge of the Iowa softball program. Marla Looper takes over the reigns as the Hawkeye head coach, coming to Iowa City from the University of Texas, where she spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach.
During her stint in Austin, Looper helped lead the Longhorns to nine NCAA Tournament berths, four Big 12 regular season titles and a pair of Big 12 Tournament championships.
Looper served as Texas’ pitching coach from 1999-2005 and mentored softball great Cat Osterman to the USA National Player of the Year Award in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Texas’ pitching staff led the nation in earned run average in three of Looper’s final four years as pitching coach, while Osterman led the country in 2003 and 2006 in both earned run average and strikeouts per seven innings.
FORMER HAWKEYE RETURNS TO STAFF
Four-year letterwinner Stacy Johnson (formerly Stacy May) returns to the Hawkeye coaching staff after wrapping up a stellar professional player career in the National Professional Fastpitch league.
Johnson, who started every game in her Iowa career, was a three-time NFCA all-Mideast Region selection for the Hawkeyes. In 2003, she was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after leading the Hawkeyes to the regular season and conference tournament titles.
The Hawkeyes will be frequent fliers prior to opening their home season at Pearl Field on March 20. Iowa will rack up nearly 7,000 frequent flier miles (6,789) with trips to Georgia, Arizona, Florida, California and Florida (a second time).
TOUGH SCHEDULE IN 2011
The Hawkeyes will play a challenging schedule in 2011, as 12 of their opponents participated in the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Two of Iowa’s foes — Tennessee and Georgia — both advanced to the 2010 Women’s College World Series.
Iowa has made four Women’s College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and it has played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history.
The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships and two Big Ten Tournament titles.