Feb. 24, 2011
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The University of Iowa softball team continues tournament play in Fort Myers, Fla., at the Moe’s Blue and Green Invite Feb. 25-27. The Hawkeyes open with a pair of Friday tilts against Albany (2:45 p.m.) and Florida Gulf Coast (5 p.m.) before playing UMBC (8 a.m.) and Eastern Michigan (10:15 a.m.) on Saturday. Iowa closes out the tournament against Southern Illinois Sunday at 10:15 a.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 went a perfect 2-0 at the Littlewood Classic last weekend in Tempe, Ariz., downing Idaho State (11-3) and Seattle University (8-7). Iowa trailed 7-2 against the Redhawks before scoring four in the bottom of the third and two in the fourth to rally for the win. The team’s final two games of the tournament were cancelled due to inclement weather.
Albany, which was picked second in the America East Conference, opens its season in Fort Myers. The Great Danes return 12 letterwinners, including 2010 first team all-conference selections Gina Mason and Jessica Bergin.
Host Florida Gulf Coast brings a 3-7 overall record into the weekend after going 1-4 at the Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Tournament. The Eagles downed Georgetown, 10-0, in their lone win. FGCU is batting .191 as a team, and the pitching staff has a 2.30 earned run average. Stephanie Sullivan is leading the team with a 2-1 record and a 0.98 ERA, while Courtney Platt’s .227 average is a team-high.
UMBC also opens its 2011 season in the Sunshine State after its season-opener Tuesday against Towson was postponed. The Retrievers return 11 letterwinners and five starters from a squad that went 25-24 a season ago.
Eastern Michigan opens its season in Fort Myers after being picked to finish fifth in the Mid-American Conference West Division in 2011. The Eagles have 15 players returning from a 19-30-1 squad.
Southern Illinois brings a 5-3 record into Florida after taking home the title at the Bulldog Round Robin Tournament last weekend. The Salukis beat host Mississippi State, 9-4, in the final game to close out play with a 3-1 record. Michelle Bradley was named the tournament Most Valuable Player, and was joined on the all-tournament team by Haley Gorman, Jayna Spivey and Taylor Orsburn. SIU has five every day players hitting above .300 with Gorman leading the way with a .448 clip.
? The Hawkeyes are 8-3 all-time against the five teams participating in the Moe’s Blue and Green Invite. Iowa is 5-2 against Southern Illinois and 3-1 against Eastern Michigan. The squad’s games against Albany, Florida Gulf Coast and UMBC will be the first all-time meeting.
? Southern Illinois faced Big Ten leader Michigan in the season-opening Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational. The Wolverines pounded the Salukis, 19-4.
? Five of Jenny Schuelke’s six hits this season have been of the extra base variety. The senior has three doubles and two home runs, which gives her a .833 slugging percentage.
? Schuelke has nine of the team’s 28 RBI this season. That means the senior has driven in 32 percent of the team’s runs.
? Freshman Nikki Gentile has the top batting average on the team, as she has five hits in 13 at-bats for a .385 clip.
? After striking out 41 times in Georgia, the Hawkeyes had zero strikeouts in their two games in Tempe.
BATS COME ALIVE IN TEMPE
After finishing with a total of 14 hits and scoring 10 in their first five games of the season, the Hawkeyes exploded for 24 hits and 19 runs in a pair of games at the Littlewood Classic. Iowa finished with a .500 team batting average in Tempe, and raised the team average 112 points.
The Hawkeyes had seven players bat above .500 on the weekend with Johnnie Dowling leading the way with an .800 clip after going 4-of-5 at the plate.
Senior Chelsey Carmody brings a seven-game hitting streak into Fort Myers, Fla., this weekend. Among her team-high eight hits, the Missouri native has four for extra bases, including a two-run game-winning home run in the 8-7 victory over Seattle University.
Senior Jenny Schuelke connected on her second home run of the season in the 11-3 run-rule victory over Idaho State on Feb. 18. The Solon, Iowa, native hit a walk-off grand slam to send the Hawkeyes to the win. Schuelke also ripped a first inning double against the Bengals and finished the game with a career-high five RBI.
FROSH COLLECTS 2ND, 3RD WIN
Freshman Kayla Massey picked up the victory in both of Iowa’s wins in Tempe. The California native allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits with six strikeouts against Idaho State. She then pitched 4.1 innings in relief, allowing one hit and striking out six against Seattle U.
On the year, Massey is 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA, which is eighth best in the Big Ten. She has struck out 34 batters in 29.0 innings, which are the fourth most in the conference.
Junior Katie Keim has played four different positions for the Hawkeyes this. The Missouri native played first base, third base and second base at the Red & Black Showcase in Georgia before seeing action at shortstop in both games in Tempe.
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.
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 14th with 99 career runs scored, while sitting just outside the top 10 in career triples with nine.
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.
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.
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.