Iowa Takes 2 From Illinois

March 31, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team posted a doubleheader sweep over Illinois on Saturday afternoon at Pearl Field. The Hawkeyes won 5-1 in the opener before downing the Fighting Illini, 9-1, in six innings in game two.

“I am proud of the kids for how they came out, took this week of practice and really implemented it in the ball game,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “They took advantage of one of the better pitchers in the conference that first game and were able to knock her out of the game and get to their bullpen. Then they stuck with it through game two to get the sweep.”

Iowa improves its record to 13-17 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play, while Illinois falls to 16-13 overall and 2-3 in league play.

After leaving five runners on base over the first three innings, the Hawkeyes pushed five runs across the plate in the fourth to take control of game one. With one out, Iowa loaded the bases on three consecutive walks by Brianna Luna, Melanie Gladden and Michelle Zoeller.

Junior Johnnie Dowling followed with a two-run double into the right centerfield gap and a third run crossed the plate on a throwing error on Illinois centerfielder Brittany Sanchez. Dowling then scored on an infield single by junior Ashley Akers before freshman Megan Blank’s RBI triple down the right field line plated Iowa’s fifth run.

Illinois got one run back in its next at-bat courtesy of the long ball. First baseman Meredith Hackett connected on a 2-1 pitch and drilled it over the fence in dead center to make the score 5-1.

The first two innings were all about missed opportunities by both teams. The Fighting Illini loaded the bases in both the first and second frames, but came up empty handed. Iowa put three runners on via three walks in the bottom of the second, but failed to push a run across the plate.

Sophomore Kayla Massey picked up her seventh victory in the circle, allowing one run on six hits in the complete game. She had five strikeouts to five walks in the game to even her record at 7-7.

Illinois starter Pepper Gay suffered the loss, allowing five runs on three hits in four innings. The junior, who is now 11-5 on the year, issued eight walks and had two strikeouts in the game.

Dowling led the Hawkeye offensive attack, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Blank went 1-for-2 with an RBI and two walks.

The Hawkeyes struck first in game two, plating two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Senior Katie Keim led off the inning with a single to left field before junior Bradi Wall hit a one-out double off the left field wall. Keim got under the tag to score the first run on a squeeze bunt off the bat of sophomore Brianna Luna, and freshman Melanie Gladden followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to plate Wall.

Iowa stretched its advantage to 3-0 in the third inning courtesy of a solo home run by sophomore Malloree Grove. Grove golfed a 2-1 pitch off of Fighting Illini starter Jackie Guy over the left field fence to tally the first long ball of her Hawkeye career.

Illinois got one back in the fourth inning, making the score 3-1. Third baseman Jess Perkins drew a leadoff walk before coming around to score on an RBI single by Guy.

The Hawkeyes broke the game open, scoring three runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth. Keim led off with a single in the fifth before crossing the plate on an RBI double by Luna. Gladden then followed with her first career long ball, a two-run shot to left field to make the score 6-1.

Iowa then scored two runs on four hits in the fifth. Blank led off the inning with a double, but was thrown out at trying to stretch it into a triple. Keim followed with a one-out double before crossing the plate on an RBI double by senior Liz Watkins. Following a single by Wall and a Luna walk to load the bases, Watkins plated Iowa’s eighth run, scoring on a wild pitch.

The Hawkeyes ended the game early in the sixth. After Dowling drew a one-out walk, she scored the game-clinching run on Blank’s RBI triple into the right centerfield gap.

Lyon notched her sixth victory, scattering three hits and allowing one run in the complete game. She had six strikeouts to four walks to improve to 6-10 on the season.

Three Iowa players recorded multi-hit games in the victory. Keim went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, Wall went 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Blank went 2-for-4. Luna and Gladden each had one hit, but drove in two and three runs, respectively.

The Hawkeyes will go for the series sweep Sunday, hosting Illinois at 2 p.m. at Pearl Field.

Iowa 5, Illinois 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Illinois (16-12, 2-2) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 2
Iowa (12-17, 2-2) 0 0 0 5 0 0 X 5 5 0
Game Decision
W: Kayla Massey (IOWA) 7-7
L: Pepper Gay (ILL) 11-5


Iowa 9, Illinois 1 (6 innings) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Illinois (16-13, 2-3) 0 0 0 1 0 0 X 1 3 1
Iowa (13-17, 3-2) 0 2 1 3 2 1 X 9 11 0
Game Decision
W: Chelsea Lyon (IOWA) 6-10
L: Jackie Guy (ILL) 5-8