April 21, 2012
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — The University of Iowa softball team extended its Big Ten Conference winning streak to four games with a doubleheader sweep at Michigan State on Saturday at Secchia Stadium. The Hawkeyes rolled to a 6-0 win in game one before downing the Spartans, 7-1, in game two.
“I was proud of the team,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We talked about being aggressive, getting on the board early and continuing to put runs up, and they did a nice job with that. When we continue to be the aggressor and get runs on the board, we’re probably going to come out victors.”
Iowa improves its record to 19-22 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play, while Michigan State falls to 11-32 overall and 0-14 in conference action.
Sophomore Kayla Massey pitched a gem in the opener, surrendering four hits in the complete game shutout. Massey retired the first seven batters she faced and finished the game with seven strikeouts to three walks over seven innings to even her record at 9-9. It was Massey’s third shutout of the season.
The Hawkeye offense plated the first run in the second inning courtesy of the long ball. Senior Katie Keim led off the frame with a solo home run over the scoreboard in left field to make the score 1-0. The round tripper was the seventh home run for Keim and her second in as many games.
Iowa put the game away, plating a combined five runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. The Hawkeyes scored their second run on a double steal in the fifth, and junior Bradi Wall’s RBI single made the score 3-0.
Senior Liz Watkins hit a towering solo home run to lead off the sixth inning. The long ball, which traveled approximately 280 feet to dead centerfield, was Watkins’ third homer of the season.
Iowa pushed two runs across the plate in its final at-bat. Following a leadoff single by junior Johnnie Dowling and a one-out double by freshman Megan Blank, Keim delivered a two-run double into the left centerfield gap to make the score 6-0.
The Hawkeyes pounded out 12 hits in the game — their second most of the season. Four players — Dowling (2-for-4, one run), Blank (2-for-4, one run), Keim (2-for-4, three RBI) and sophomore Michelle Zoeller (2-for-3) — all tallied multi-hit games.
“Our offense was confident, put the ball in play, ran hard and took advantage of extra bases,” said Looper. “Michelle got a chance today and made the most of her opportunity. That’s what any player wants is just that chance and really take advantage of it.”
After trading unearned runs in the first inning of game two, the Hawkeyes regained the lead in the second. Zoeller singled to lead off the frame before moving to second base on Malloree Grove’s sacrifice bunt. Junior Ashley Akers then made contact with the second pitch she saw for an RBI single to centerfield.
The Hawkeyes added three runs — all unearned — in the third. After loading the bases with no outs, Zoeller reached on a fielder’s choice with one away, and Blank and Keim scored on the play on a throwing error by third baseman Jayme O’Bryant. Grove then followed with a sacrifice fly to left field to push Iowa’s advantage to 5-1.
The Hawkeyes added a pair of insurance run in the top of the seventh. Keim and Watkins drew one-out walks to get things started before executing a double steal to move into scoring position. After Keim was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice off the bat of freshman Melanie Gladden, Zoeller delivered an RBI single to left field to make the score 6-1. Pinch hitter Tor Hawley then followed with an RBI single to left centerfield to knock in Iowa’s seventh run of the afternoon.
Junior Chelsea Lyon allowed five hits and one run (unearned) in the complete game. She had eight strikeouts, seven of which were looking, to two walks in the contest to tally her 10th victory of the season.
Blank and Zoeller both tallied multi-hit games for the second consecutive contest. Blank went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI, while Zoeller went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI.
The Hawkeyes will go for the series sweep Sunday, facing the Spartans at 11 a.m. (CT). The game will be televised live on the BTN.
|Iowa 6, Michigan State 0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Iowa (18-22, 8-5)||0||1||0||0||2||1||2||6||12||2|
|Michigan State (11-31, 0-13)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||4||0|
|W: Kayla Massey (IOWA) 9-9|
|L: Carly Nielsen (MSU) 3-14|
|Iowa 7, Michigan State 1||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Iowa (19-22, 9-5)||1||1||3||0||0||0||2||7||8||1|
|Michigan State (11-32, 0-14)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||5||3|
|W: Chelsea Lyon (IOWA) 10-13|
|L: Cassee Layne (MSU) 5-12|