Spring Break in Cali

March 11, 2012

The University of Iowa softball team heads to California for its spring break trip, playing six games in five days. The Hawkeyes open with a road date at Long Beach State on Tuesday at 4 p.m. before beginning tournament action at the Judi Garman Classic.

Iowa opens tournament play with a doubleheader against Notre Dame and No. 3/4 Washington at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. After hosting Virginia on Friday at 11 a.m., the Hawkeyes close out the weekend with games against No. 11/11 Louisiana-Lafayette and Cal State Fullerton at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., on Saturday. All times listed are Central.

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.

Hawkeye fans can follow the University of Iowa softball team on the social media platforms Twitter (@iowasoftball) and Facebook (facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball). Game updates will be tweeted during each game.

Long Beach State, currently 9-17 on the year, has four players hitting above .300. Cye Neal is leading the squad with a .377 batting average, while Ashylyn Backer has a .318 average with four home runs and 13 RBI. Hannah De Gretano is pacing the squad with 14 RBI, while hitting .308 at the plate. Erin Jones-Wesley is the 49ers’ top hurler, posting a 9-8 record with a 2.56 ERA and 83 strikeouts.

Notre Dame is 8-6 overall this season after winning seven of its last nine games, which includes an 8-1 victory over Oregon State. The Fighting Irish have four players hitting over .300 with Amy Bantin leading the way with a .418 clip. Dani Miller has a .378 batting average with four home runs and 17 RBI. In the circle, Laura Winter and Brittany O’Donn share the duties. Winter is 4-4 with a 2.39 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 55.2 innings. O’Donn is 4-2 with a 4.04 ERA.

Washington, ranked third and fourth in the national rankings, is currently 21-1 on the year. The Huskies lone defeat came against nationally ranked Missouri at the Cathedral City Classic in February. UW has nine players hitting over .300 with Kimi Pohlman being the top every day player with a .478 average with 12 RBI. Kaitlin Inglesby is leading the Huskies with 22 RBI, while also being the top pitcher. She is 10-0 with a 1.46 ERA and three shutouts.

Virginia is currently 15-5 on the season after taking a pair of games from Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers have four batters over .300 with Alex Skinkis leading the way with a .327 mark. Marcy Bowdren is hitting .323 with five home runs and 19 RBI.

Louisiana-Lafayette, ranked 11th in both national polls, are currently 21-0 on the season. The Ragin Cajun have eight players hitting over .300 with Christi Orgeron leading the way with a .442 average with eight home runs and 43 RBI. On the rubber, Jordan Wallace and Ashley Brignac are both 9-0. Wallace has a 2.23 ERA, while Brignac has a 2.38 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 70.2 innings pitched.

Cal State Fullerton is currently 11-14 on the season. The Titans has two players hitting above .300 with Ashley Carter leading the team with a .349 average with 10 RBI. Desiree Ybarra is 6-7 in the circle with a 3.92 ERA, while Aly Fascetti is 5-6 with a 6.18 ERA.

? Iowa is 16-14 all-time against its six opponents this week. The Hawkeyes are 3-2 against Long Beach State, 4-2 against Notre Dame, 1-7 against Washington, 4-0 against Virginia, 1-2 against Louisiana-Lafayette and 3-1 against Cal State Fullerton.

? Sophomore Brianna Luna hit her first two career home runs last weekend against Oklahoma State. She hit a solo shot in Stillwater on March 9 before hitting a two-run shot against the Cowgirls in Oklahoma City.
? Iowa ranks third in the Big Ten Conference in pitching (2.25 ERA), fifth in team batting (.281) and sixth in fielding ( fourth in team batting (.304) and fielding (.956).
? Two Hawkeyes — Megan Blank and Katie Keim — rank among the top 13 in the Big Ten in batting average. Blank is ninth at .392, while Keim is 13th at .383. ? Iowa scored 26 runs in the 26-5 rout of Iowa State on Feb. 19. The Hawkeyes plated 13 runs in the top of the third inning alone. Iowa didn’t score 13 runs in a game last season.
? The Hawkeyes notched their first win over a ranked foe, downing 23rd-ranked Oklahoma State, 5-3, on March 10 in Oklahoma City. Iowa is 1-5 against ranked competition during the 2012 season.

Senior Katie Keim has a team-best nine multi-hit games for the Hawkeyes this season. The first baseman has seven two-hit contests and one four-hit game. She went 4-for-6 with five runs and five RBI in the win over Iowa State. She also had her first career two-home run game against the Cyclones.

Keim’s .383 batting average ranks 13th in the Big Ten, her 23 hits are eighth most in the league and her 19 RBIs are tied for ninth.

Sophomore Kayla Massey has made nine starts for the Hawkeyes this season, and she has notched nine complete games. The California native has a 1.67 ERA in 63.0 innings of work, which ranks third in the Big Ten. She is limiting opposing batters to a .216 batting average.

The Hawkeyes are playing “station-to-station” softball in 2012. Iowa is tied for the Big Ten lead with 18 sacrifice hits. Junior Ashley Akers is tied for fourth with four sacrifices. The Hawkeyes are also 24-of-31 in stolen base attempts, which are the fifth most in the conference.

Iowa had a record-setting 26-5 rout of Iowa State on Feb. 18 at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Hawkeyes set school records for runs (26), hits (29), RBI (23), total bases (41) and single game batting average (.659). Iowa scored 13 runs in the second inning alone, which is believed to be the school record.

Senior Katie Keim set a school record with five runs scored, while senior Liz Watkins tied the single game school record with five hits.

Sophomore Kayla Massey has an expanded role in 2012. She is not only the team’s most consistent pitcher, but she has added hitting to her responsibilies. Massey is batting .286 with eight RBI on the season, which are tied for the third most on the team. She went 4-for-4 with two RBI in the win over Iowa State.

Shortstop Megan Blank was tabbed Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Feb. 13 after posting a .583 batting average with six runs and two steals at the Getterman Classic. The California native reached base at nearly a 70 percent clip, getting on twice or more in four games. She went 3-for-3 against Arkansas, drew four walks against Wichita State and scored the game-winning run in the 1-0 win over UT-Arlington.

Freshman Megan Blank and junior Ashley Akers were selected to the Getterman Classic all-Tournament Team. Blank collected hits in 7-of-12 at-bats for a .583 average, while Akers batted .500, tallying six hits in 12 at-bats.

Through the first 18 games of the 2012 season, the Hawkeyes have matched the number of run-rule victories from the 2011 campaign. Iowa has run-ruled Wichita State, Belmont and Iowa State this season.

At the plate, junior Johnnie Dowling made the transition from a right-handed hitter to a left-handed slapper following the 2011 season to utilize her speed. The Des Moines, Iowa, native hit .216 with five home runs as a sophomore.

The 2012 season will be junior Bradi Wall’s third year playing softball. Growing up, she played baseball and parlayed that experience into two appearances for the Canadia National Baseball Team. The last two years Wall played softball at Iowa Western Community College, where she earned All-America recognition after batting .458 with 32 doubles.

UI assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson was selected as the 2011 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year. She earned the honor after helping Team USA to gold medals at the World Cup of Softball VII and the Pan American Games. May-Johnson batted a team-best .418 with team highs in home runs (six), runs (26) and RBI (36). She will play for the Red, White and Blue again in 2012.

The Hawkeyes will face a difficult schedule in 2012, squaring off against 14 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. Five of those teams participated in the Women’s College World Series, including 2011 national champion Arizona State.

The Hawkeyes will play their first 26 games away from Iowa City before making their Pearl Field debut March 24 against Wisconsin. Iowa will rack up the frequent flier miles, as it will log nearly 5,500 miles (5,413) with trips to Waco, Texas, Palm Springs, Calif., Oklahoma City, Fullerton, Calif., and Columbia, Mo.

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.