April 27, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team suffered its first two home losses of the season, dropping both games of its doubleheader against Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon at Pearl Field. The Hawkeyes fell 7-6 in the opener before coming out on the wrong end of a 6-3 decision in the night cap.
“Wisconsin did a great job playing softball, having fun and making things happen,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “They put some pressure on us, and we folded under that pressure today.
“We’ve got to be better before we head into Indiana this weekend. We have six games left and they’re all crucial. We’ve got to get out of this funk that we’re in right now and trudge forward.”
The first game looked like it was going to be an offensive slugfest, as the two squads combined for 11 runs in the opening two innings. The Badgers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on Karla Powell’s RBI double off the left field wall, but the Hawkeye immediately answered with four runs in their opening at-bat.
Katie Keim and Ashley Akers had back-to-back singles to lead off the first and both moved up a base on a Wisconsin throwing error. Keim then crossed the plate on Chelsey Carmody’s sacrifice bunt before Stephanie Ochoa doubled to right centerfield to make the score 3-1. Ochoa then came around to plate the team’s final run of the inning when Brianna Luna reached on an error.
The advantage was short lived, however, as Wisconsin erupted for five runs in the top of the second. Following a Michelle Mueller single and a Cassandra Darrah walk, pinch hitter Whitney Massey belted the first pitch she saw deep over the right field fence for a three-run shot. The Badgers plated two more runs in the inning to grab a 6-4 lead.
The Hawkeyes cut the deficit in half via Keim’s solo home run to lead off the bottom of the second. It was the junior’s second straight game with a long ball and the third of her career. Iowa then tied the game at six all when Jenny Schuelke scored an unearned run in the third.
After three scoreless innings by both squads, Wisconsin plated the go-ahead score in the top of the seventh inning via the small ball. Shannel Blackshear drew a leadoff walk before being pinch run for by Abby Gregory. Gregory moved up a base on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a fly out to right field. The Badgers then used a squeeze bunt from Stephanie Peace to grab the 7-6 advantage.
In Iowa’s final at-bat, Johnnie Dowling laced a one out double to right centerfield to put the tying run in scoring position, but UW pitcher Amanda Najdek got a pair of groundouts to stop the Hawkeye rally.
Massey suffered the loss in relief, allowing one run on one hit in two innings of work. Najdek tallied her fourth victory of the season, going six innings in relief, allowing one run on seven hits.
Four Hawkeyes accounted for nine of the team’s 11 hits. Akers went 3-for-4 to pace the squad, while Keim (2-4, 2 runs, 1 RBI), Carmody (2-3, 1 run, 1 RBI) and Dowling (2-3) each had a pair of hits.
Iowa jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second game of the day, scoring all three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Michelle Zoeller walked to lead off the inning, and Akers followed with a one-out base on ball to put two runners on. Keim, who was batting in the three hole, then connected on her third home run in as many games, giving Iowa the 3-0 lead.
After going down in order in the fourth, Wisconsin fought back to even the game, scoring three runs in the fifth. Blackshear delivered the big blow in the inning, belting a two-run long ball over the right field fence.
The Badgers proceeded to take the lead in their next at-bat, plating three more runs in the top of the sixth. After a pair of quick outs to open the frame, Maggie Strange legged out an infield single to start things off before Mueller followed with a single up the middle to put two runners on.
The Hawkeyes caught Strange in no-man’s land in between second and third base on a pickoff attempt, but Iowa couldn’t register the out, keeping the inning alive. Wisconsin’s Mary Massei made them pay, as she connected on a three-run homer to dead center to propel the Badgers to the series sweep.
The Hawkeyes got singles from Zoeller and Carmody to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but Iowa couldn’t push any runs across the plate, as Akers struck out and Keim lined into a double play to end the game.
All six runs Massey surrendered were earned and they came on 10 hits. The loss drops the freshman’s record to 12-9 on the season.
Six different Hawkeyes accounted for the team’s six hits in the game, which included base knocks by Keim and Ochoa to extend their hitting streaks to 10 and 14 games, respectively.
Iowa (26-19, 8-6) close out the road portion of its Big Ten schedule this weekend at Indiana. Both Saturday and Sunday’s games are slated to begin at noon (CT).
|Wisconsin 7, Iowa 6||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Wisconsin (25-19, 5-8)||1||5||0||0||0||0||1||7||9||4|
|Iowa (26-18, 8-5)||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||6||11||1|
|W: Amanda Najdek (UW) 4-3|
|L: Kayla Massey (UI) 12-8|
|Wisconsin 6, Iowa 3||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Wisconsin (26-19, 6-8)||0||0||0||0||3||3||0||6||10||0|
|Iowa (26-19, 8-6)||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||3||6||2|
|W: Cassandra Darrah (UW) 14-7|
|L: Kayla Massey (UI) 12-9|