April 17, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team used an eight run fourth inning to rally for a 9-7 victory over Northwestern Sunday afternoon at Pearl Field. The win propelled the Hawkeyes to the series sweep over the Wildcats and improves the team’s record to 24-16 overall and 7-3 in the Big Ten Conference.
“The nice thing is, we’re not freaking out and panicking when we’re getting behind,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We know we have to keep getting after it and give ourselves a chance.”
Trailing 7-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Iowa erupted for eight runs, sending 10 batters to the plate. The Hawkeyes loaded the bases without recording a hit as Liz Watkins walked, Nikki Gentile was hit by a pitch and Jenny Schuelke walked. After a pop out for the first out of the inning, junior Katie Keim singled up the middle to plate a pair of runs, making the score 7-3.
Following a strikeout, Johnnie Dowling reached via error to load the bases a second time. Senior Chelsey Carmody drew a walk to knock in a run before Stephanie Ochoa hit a hard grounder to second base that went through Jordan Wheeler’s legs and rolled all the way to the wall. All three Hawkeyes on base scored to even the game at seven apiece.
Northwestern went to the bullpen, bringing in Jessica Smith to face Watkins with Ochoa on base. The Iowa catcher greeted the reliever by belting a 1-2 pitch over the right centerfield wall to give the Hawkeyes the 9-7 advantage. It was Watkins’ second long ball of the day and her team-leading ninth home run of the season.
“They had a couple of errors and we had a couple of key hits,” said Looper on Iowa’s big fourth inning. “Anytime someone gives us extra chances we need to take care of it, and we did that today.”
After struggling early in the game, Iowa starter Chelsea Lyon settled in to notch her 13th victory of the season. The sophomore pitched around a pair of hits in the fifth, a leadoff walk in the sixth and a leadoff single in the seventh, before striking out the Big Ten’s leading hitter — Emily Allard — swinging to close out the victory.
Lyon allowed seven runs (all earned) in the complete game on 12 hits. She struck out five Wildcat batters, while walking seven.
Northwestern grabbed the early lead, plating its first run in the top of the second on Kristin Scharkey’s sacrifice fly to right field. The Hawkeyes evened the tally in the bottom of the inning when Watkins drilled the first pitch of the frame over the left field fence.
The Wildcats proceeded to score three runs in both the third and fourth innings to grab a 7-1 lead. Mari Majam, who went 4-for-4 in the game, hit a bases clearing triple in the third. In the fourth, Adrienne Monka had a two-run double before Wheeler’s RBI single to left center plated NU’s final run of the day.
Watkins paced the Hawkeyes at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored. Her two home runs matched a career high. On the weekend, the junior reached base in 8-of-9 plate appearances with six RBI and four runs scored. Keim, meanwhile, had a pair of RBI, while extending her hitting streak to five games.
Iowa (24-16, 7-3) returns to action Wednesday, hosting Iowa State in the HyVee Cy-Hawk Series beginning at 5 p.m. at Pearl Field.
|Iowa 9, Northwestern 7||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Northwestern (20-13, 2-6)||0||1||3||3||0||0||0||7||12||3|
|Iowa (24-16, 7-3)||0||1||0||8||0||0||X||9||6||0|
|W: Chelsea Lyon (UI) 13-10|
|L: Sammy Albanese (NU) 6-6|