Feb. 10, 2013
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HOUSTON — The University of Iowa softball team defeated 11th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette, 13-10, in a wild one on Saturday night in its fourth game of the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. The Hawkeye offense pounded out 14 hits as Iowa led the entire game to win its third straight. The contest, which lasted over three hours, was played at Cougar Softball Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston.
The win is Iowa’s first over a ranked opponent since it defeated No. 23 Oklahoma State last year, 5-3, on March 3. No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette is the highest-ranked team the Hawkeyes have defeated since winning at No. 1 Michigan on April, 23, 2011.
“I am very proud of our girls,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “They did a great job of continuing to fight after setting the tone early. Against a club like that, we have to set the tone early and get after it knowing they are one of the best hitting clubs in the country. They are going to put runs up, but if we can stay ahead of them, which we did, the odds are in our favor.”
The Iowa offense struck early and often. Senior Johnnie Dowling paced all, recording a game-high and equaling a career-best with three hits (3-for-5). She tallied two RBIs and scored a run. Classmate Ashley Akers went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Sophomore Megan Blank notched a career-best five RBIs, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored. She tallied her second home run of the day, as Iowa’s one through three hitters finished a combined 7-for-14 to set the table throughout.
Juniors Brianna Luna (2-for-3) and Michelle Zoeller (2-for-5) turned in multi-hit games. Luna scored two runs and Zoeller finished with three RBIs. Freshmen Holly Hoffman and Sammi Gyerman, and junior Kayla Massey, also tallied hits.
The Hawkeyes opened the game with a bang, scoring three in their first at bat. Dowling and Akers opened the excitement with back-to-back singles. Blank stepped in and immediately cleared the bases, launching her fourth career long ball over the centerfield fence.
Louisiana-Lafayette used an RBI single in the bottom half of the first to cut the Iowa lead to 3-1.
The Hawkeyes responded in a big way in the top of the third, plating four runs. Blank reached on an error to open the frame. With one away, Hoffman singled to right field and Luna followed with a walk to pack the bags. Zoeller followed with a single to left field to move the runners up a base. Iowa did not stop there, scoring three two-outs runs. Freshman Eric Erickson pinch hit, and was hit by a pitch to drive home Hoffman from third. Dowling and Akers followed with RBI singles to push Iowa’s lead to 7-1.
The Cajuns answered with three runs in the bottom half, trimming the Hawkeye lead to 7-4. Iowa answered right back, scoring two runs in the next frame. Zoeller knocked a two-out single, scoring Luna and Hoffman to push the lead to 9-4.
Louisiana-Lafayette responded for a third time, pushing across two runs in the bottom half of the fourth to make the score 9-6. Freshman Micaela Whitney made her first career appearance, getting a key strikeout with the bases loaded to end the Cajun threat.
The Iowa offense kept rolling in the top of the fifth, using an RBI single from Blank to extend its lead to 10-6. Louisiana-Lafayette pushed across a single tally in the bottom half to cut the advantage to 10-7.
The Hawkeyes put up a three-spot in the top half of the sixth. With the bases loaded, Dowling reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Zoeller from third. Akers was hit by a pitch, bringing home another run. Blank then reached on an RBI fielder’s choice to push the lead to six at 13-7. The Cajuns added three runs in the bottom of the sixth, but it was too little, too late. Massey shut down Louisiana-Lafayette in the final frame, giving Iowa the 13-10 win.
Senior Chelsea Lyon started and earned a no decision, pitching three and two-thirds innings. She struck out four. Whitney earned the win in her first career appearance. She tossed an inning in relief, allowing one run on one hit while striking out one. Massey earned the save, pitching two and a third innings. She allowed three runs on three hits, while striking out three Cajuns.
“That is vital,” said Looper when asked about Iowa holding off numerous Ragin’ Cajun charges. “It shows our grit, determination, and will to get it done. Chelsea (Lyon) kept battling. Mac (Micaela Whitney) came in and did a great job in relief, and Kayla (Massey) shut them down. They are a quality ball club.”
Louisiana-Lafayette starter Kristin Martinez took the loss for the Ragin’ Cajuns (1-1). She allowed six runs (three earned) on five hits in four innings pitched.
The Hawkeyes (3-1) conclude action Sunday in the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. Iowa will face Louisiana-Lafayette for a second time at 11:30 a.m. CT.
|Iowa 13, No. 11 Louisiana 10||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|W: Micaela Whitney (IOWA) 1-0|
|L: Kristin Martinez (ULL) 0-1|
|SV: Kayla Massey (IOWA) 1|