April 10, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team completed the series sweep over Michigan State, winning the offensive-minded finale, 9-8, Sunday afternoon at Pearl Field. The two teams combined for 29 hits in the contest with the Hawkeyes’ 17 hits being the most for the squad since late February and the second most this season.
After trailing 7-4 heading into the fifth, the Spartans plated three runs to even tally at seven. Ali Grant belted a two-run home run down the left field line to cut the deficit to 7-6. Two batters later, Jayme O’Bryant hit a solo shot to left center to knot the game at seven all.
The Hawkeyes used heady base running in the bottom of the inning to regain the advantage. Freshman Nikki Gentile led off the frame with a single up the middle, and Katie Keim followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice. Sophomore Ashley Akers then laid a bunt single down the first base line, putting a pair of runners on with two outs.
The three hole hitter, sophomore Johnnie Dowling, followed with a bunt single of her own. On the play, Keim scored from second when MSU attempted to throw out Dowling at first, and Akers followed suit, scoring all the way from first base on the Spartan’s throw to second trying to keep Dowling from advancing to second.
“We were seeing where the throw was — home plate was wide open — when they leave a bag open we should take it, that’s being aggressive and assertive and taking advantage of the mistakes,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “Akers followed suit, kept watching the ball be thrown around and took advantage of it.”
Michigan State cut the lead in half in the top of the seventh inning on a solo home run down the left field line by Brett Williams. Iowa starter Chelsea Lyon kept her composure and got her 11th victory by striking out Grant and getting a groundout and pop up to shortstop Michelle Zoeller to end the game.
Lyon allowed eight runs on 12 hits in the complete game. She struck out three and walked four Spartan batters.
Michigan State jumped on the board first, plating one run in its opening two at-bats. Williams laced an RBI double down the left field line to plate Lindsey Hansen in the first. In the top of the second, Jessica Bracamonte’s RBI double to left field knocked in Lori Padilla, making the score 2-0.
Iowa sent 11 batters to the plate en route to scoring six runs in the bottom of the second. Junior Liz Watkins singled up the middle to lead things off, Zoeller followed with a one-out single through the left side, and Kayla Massey walked to load the bases.
Gentile knocked in the first run on a hit by pitch before Keim’s sacrifice fly to centerfield plated the second. Akers and Dowling followed with back-to-back RBI singles before Brianna Luna walked to load the bases and chase Spartan starter Shelby Wise from the game.
In her second at-bat of the inning, Watkins welcomed Cassee Layne to the circle with an RBI single to knock in Iowa’s fifth and sixth runs of the frame, making the score 6-2.
Michigan State got two runs back in the top of the third on a RBI double by Sarah Bowling to right field, cutting its deficit to 6-4. Luna scored Iowa’s seventh run in the bottom of the fourth, coming around to score on a pair of MSU errors. The freshman reached via a one out double to left centerfield.
Eight different Hawkeyes tallied hits in the game and six players had multi-hit affairs. Akers (3-5, 2 runs), Dowling (3-4, 1 run, 1 RBI) and Gentile (3-3, 1 run, 1 RBI) each had three-hit games, while Keim (2-4, 1 run, 1 RBI), Watkins (2-3, 2 RBI, 1 run) and Zoeller (2-4, 1 run) each tallied two hits.
The Hawkeyes (21-15, 4-2) head to Minneapolis for a mid-week doubleheader at Minnesota on Wednesday. Both games will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.
“This is going to boost our confidence quite a bit,” said Looper. “The challenge is to stay with it and not get too big of a head — be confident, but not cocky and know that when we go Minnesota, we need to take care of business.”
|Iowa 9, Michigan State 8||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Michigan State (20-17, 2-6)||1||1||2||0||3||0||1||8||12||2|
|Iowa (21-15, 4-2)||0||6||0||1||2||0||X||9||17||0|
|W: Chelsea Lyon (UI) 11-10|
|L: Cassee Layne (MSU) 8-12|