Gladden's Walk Off Gives Iowa Split

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April 14, 2012

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Freshman Melanie Gladden’s walk off RBI single down the left field line lifted the University of Iowa softball team to a Saturday doubleheader split against Nebraska at Pearl Field. The Hawkeyes dropped the opening game to the Huskers, 7-4, before scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 7-6 win in the night cap.

“That’s one thing we’ve seen in Melanie, she’s a pretty cool cucumber,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “There are times she takes some pretty big hacks, and not had success, but in pressure situations, she’s a pretty cool cucumber and I am pretty confident in her coming up with the bases loaded.”

Iowa’s record sits at 16-21 overall and 6-5 in the Big Ten Conference, while Nebraska is 26-15 overall and 8-3 in conference play.

Trailing 6-5 heading into its final at-bat, the Hawkeyes put together a seventh inning rally. Senior Katie Keim walked to lead off the frame before senior Liz Watkins followed with a double into the right centerfield gap. After junior Bradi Wall was hit by a pitch to load the bases, sophomore Brianna Luna drew a walk to even the tally at six.

Gladden then laced the first pitch she saw down the left field line to plate pinch runner Sydney Reynolds and give the Hawkeyes the walk off victory.

“I knew I had to get on base, and that would score the run,” said Gladden. “I went up there thinking get a hit and just to try to make contact with the ball.”

Nebraska jumped out to a 1-0 lead to start the game before the Hawkeyes erupted for three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Junior Johnnie Dowling reached on a leadoff infield single to start things off before junior Ashley Akers walked to put two runners on. Freshman Megan Blank drove in Iowa’s first run with an RBI single to centerfield before a Keim squeeze bunt made the score 2-0.

Blank then was credited with a stolen base when she scored on a botched squeeze bunt attempt by Wall. Blank took off on the pitch, dove under the tag of Nebraska catcher Taylor Edwards, got up and scored, making the score 3-1.

Nebraska evened the game at three with a pair of runs in its second at-bat. Breault scored on an Iowa error before the second run crossed the plate on Taylor Edwards’ fielder’s choice.

The Hawkeyes regained the advantage, pushing two across the plate in the bottom of the fourth. After Malloree Grove walked and Dowling reached via a single, the duo executed a double steal, and Grove proceeded to score on a throwing error by Taylor Edwards. With two outs, Keim hit the first pitch she saw to left field to plate Dowling and give Iowa the 5-3 lead.

The Huskers then tied the game at five with two runs in the fifth and gained the advantage with a solo home run in the sixth. The first two Husker batters reached to start Nebraska’s rally in the fifth before Brooke Thomason delivered a two-run single to right field to even the tally at five. NU’s Courtney Breault then put the Huskers on top with a solo home run deep to left field to lead off the sixth.

Sophomore Kayla Massey picked up victory, allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits in the complete game. She struck out two Husker batters, while issuing six walks to improve to 8-9 on the season. NU starter Ashley Hagemann suffered the loss, allowing seven runs (six earned) in six innings with nine strikeouts to eight walks.

Six players accounted for Iowa’s eight hits. Dowling went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Keim went 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run.

The Huskers scored a combined six runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take control of opening game. Nebraska scored its first two runs on a pair of bases loaded walks off Iowa starter Chelsea Lyon before Nikki Hagat’s two-run single to centerfield made the score 4-1. The Huskers then pushed their lead to 6-1 in the fifth.

Iowa cut its deficit in half, plating two runs in the sixth inning. Wall walked to lead off the frame before Gladden had a one-out single up the middle to put two runners on. Pinch hitter Tor Hawley then plated a pair of runs on a “sneaky” bunt single to make the score 6-3.

The Huskers pushed their lead to 7-3 on Breault’s RBI single in the top of the seventh. Iowa’s fourth run crossed the plate in its final at-bat, and the squad brought the tying run to the plate, but Hagemann struck out Gladden looking to end the game.

The Hawkeyes scored first in the opening game, pushing a run across the plate in the third inning. Dowling singled, stole second, advanced to third on an Akers sacrifice bunt and scored on Blank’s RBI double off the wall in left centerfield.

Lyon suffered the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings. She had six strikeouts to three walks in falling to 8-12 on the year. Hagemann had eight strikeouts in four innings in relief to notch her 18th victory.

Blank and Gladden both tallied multi-hit games to lead the offensive attack. Blank went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI, while Gladden went 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Iowa returns to action Sunday afternoon, facing Nebraska in the rubber game of the three-game series. The contest is scheduled to start at 3 p.m., and be televised live on the BTN.

“We have to come out and think about winning the series and capitalizing on our opportunities,” said Looper. “They’re a very good ball club, they’re going to come out fighting, just like they did today.”

Nebraska 7, Iowa 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Nebraska (26-14, 8-2) 0 0 0 4 2 0 1 7 9 2
Iowa (15-21, 5-5) 0 0 1 0 0 2 1 4 7 1
Game Decision
W: Ashley Hagemann (NEB) 18-11
L: Chelsea Lyon (IOWA) 8-12
Iowa 7, Nebraska 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Nebraska (26-15, 8-3) 1 2 0 0 2 1 0 6 6 1
Iowa (16-21, 6-5) 3 0 0 2 0 0 2 7 8 1
Game Decision
W: Kayla Massey (IOWA) 9-12
L: Ashley Hagemann (NEB) 18-12