March 1, 2013
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FULLERTON, Calif. — The University of Iowa softball team defeated No. 15 Stanford, 7-6, on Friday in the first game of the Easton Invitational. A six-run fifth inning propelled the Hawkeyes to their second victory over a top-15 team this season (Stanford, No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette). Iowa moves to 11-5 overall. The contest was held on the campus of Cal State Fullerton.
“I think our girls did a nice job of scurrying from the airport while getting here, and then finding a way to focus,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We went into that game ready to attack and not letting any other factor impact us. Unfortunately, we spotted them a couple of runs early, but we attacked the next inning.”
The Cardinal, winners of 10 of their last 11 entering play, struck first with two, two-out runs in the bottom of the first. The Hawkeyes answered in the following frame. With the bases loaded and one out, Sammi Gyerman lined an RBI single to center to move all runners up a base, marking the first earned run in 38.2 innings for Stanford starter Kelsey Stevens. Ashley Akers followed with a free pass to even the score at 2-2. After a Cardinal pitching change, Johnnie Dowling kept the line moving, drawing another base on balls to give Iowa a 3-2 lead.
Iowa did not stop there. Bradi Wall was hit by a pitch, pushing the Hawkeye advantage to 4-2. Megan Blank then stepped in, roping a two-run single to left center to give the visitors a six-run inning and a 6-2 lead. The six-run frame marked the highest scoring inning of the season for Iowa.
“We forced their pitchers to throw a lot of pitches,” said Looper. “We have talked about it before; we have to get runners on so our hits then matter and hurt a little more. That is exactly what happened today.”
Stanford (14-4) added its third, two-out run of the game in the bottom of the second, cutting the Hawkeye lead to 6-3. In the third, the Cardinal used a two-run double to trim the lead to 6-5.
Hawkeye starter Kayla Massey helped herself in the fifth, launching a solo shot over the fence in left to push Iowa’s advantage to 7-5.
The home team used an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 7-6. With runners on first and second, Blank and Wall turned a beautiful 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.
In the final frame, Stanford’s Erin Ashby was thrown out while rounding third after a one-out triple to get a key second out in the inning. Massey coaxed a pop up to end it, earning her fourth win inside the circle. The junior tossed a complete game, allowing four earned runs. She struck out three.
Iowa, 9-3 in neutral site games, handed Stanford starter Kelsey Stevens just her second loss of the season (8-2). Stevens entered the game with a 0.99 ERA. She pitched an inning and a third, allowing five earned runs. Teagan Gerhart threw five and two-thirds innings in relief, allowing two runs.
Massey finished with a multi-hit game at the plate, going 2-for-4. Blank paced Iowa with two RBIs.
“Kayla Massey did a great job today,” said Looper. “It always helps when you can play both sides of the ball. Kayla is fortunate to be able to do that, and do that well. She gave us a great performance in the circle. We are proud of her.”
Iowa continues action tonight against No. 24 Oregon State. First pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CT) in Fullerton.
|Iowa 7, #15 Stanford 6||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|W: Kayla Massey (IOWA) 4-4|
|L: Kelsey Stevens (STAN) 8-2|