Hawkeyes Set to Play 5 in Kentucky

March 15, 2013

Complete Notes

The University of Iowa softball team continues action with five games in the state of Kentucky next week, facing three ranked opponents. The Hawkeyes will play No. 24 North Carolina (11:30 a.m.) and Ball State (2 p.m.) on Sunday to open play. Iowa continues action on Monday facing Ball State a second time (10 a.m.), and No. 11 Louisville (12:30 p.m.). All four contests will be played at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Ky.

The Hawkeyes then travel to Lexington, Ky., to face No. 17 Kentucky on March 20 at 3:30 p.m. at the UK Softball Complex. The contest against the Wildcats will be televised on UK/IMG Sports Network and Fox Sports South. All times are listed Central. Iowa opens its home slate and Big Ten schedule March 22-24 against Minnesota.

Iowa (17-6) is off to its best start since the 2009 season, when it opened with an 18-5 record in its first 23 games. The Hawkeyes have registered a winning record in all five of their tournaments to date, and have won 8-of-9 overall. Iowa has three wins over ranked opponents (No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 15 Stanford, No. 24 Oregon State). The Hawkeyes have the second most wins (17) in the Big Ten, and a winning percentage (.739) which ranks 37th nationally out of 292 teams.

Hawkeye fans can follow the University of Iowa softball team on social media platforms Twitter (@iowasoftball) and Facebook (facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball). Game updates will be tweeted during each game.

Fans can follow the action at hawkeyesports.com, where live stats (Gametracker) will be available. The live “GT” can be found under the calendar tab on the right-hand side of the hawkeyesports.com home page, or on the softball schedule page.

Fans interested in attending home games at Pearl Field should visit hawkeyesports.com or contact the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800 IA-HAWKS to secure season tickets. Season tickets are currently on sale for $20 for the reserved seating area, $15 for general public in the general admission area, and $12 for faculty/staff general admission. All youth, 18 and younger, and UI students are admitted free to all home games. Purchase is required for all reserved seats, regardless of age. Iowa opens its home slate with a three-game set against Big Ten rival Minnesota, March 22-24. The Hawkeyes will also host three-game series against Nebraska (April 5-7) and Penn State (April 26-28), in addition to a doubleheader against Illinois (April 23). No. 8 Missouri comes to town (April 17) for a doubleheader, and Iowa State travels to Iowa City for the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game on May 1.

? North Carolina is 18-7 overall after falling 18-0 at Kentucky on March 12. The Tar Heels will play four games in the Louisville Tournament before facing Iowa.
? Ball State is 11-9 overall. The Cardinals are 2-1 against opponents the Hawkeyes may face later this season, defeating Northern Iowa (9-3) and splitting two contests with Michigan State.
? Louisville is 21-3 on the season, and enters the tournament on a nine-game winning streak.
? Kentucky stands at 19-4 overall. The Wildcats travel to LSU this weekend before hosting Iowa and Western Kentucky (March 19) next week.

? The Hawkeyes are 1-5 all-time against North Carolina. The Tar Heels won the last meeting in 2008, 1-0. Iowa won in eight innings in 2006, 3-2.
? The Hawkeyes have never lost to Ball State, winning all 13 meetings. The schools last met in 2007 (9-2).
? Iowa is 4-2 against Louisville in program history. The Hawkeyes claimed the last meeting in 2007, 3-2, in eight innings.
? Kentucky and Iowa have split two meetings. The Wildcats won the last meeting in 2003 (7-4), and the Hawkeyes captured the first meeting in 1997 (8-0).

The Hawkeyes scored 27 runs in 18 innings in three wins over Ohio State, Radford and Maryland March 9-10 in College Park, Md. Iowa downed Maryland on March 9, 9-4, before earning two run-rule victories against Radford (10-0, five innings) and Ohio State (8-0 six innings) on March 10. The Iowa offense plated 18 runs on 23 hits in 11 innings against the Highlanders and Buckeyes, and starters Chelsea Lyon and Kayla Massey combined for 11 scoreless innings inside the circle. Freshman catcher Holly Hoffman capped Iowa’s big day with a walk-off grand slam against Ohio State. The contest against the Buckeyes counts as a nonconference game.

The Hawkeyes have been hit-by-pitch 34 times to start the 2013 season. Iowa leads the Big Ten in the category. Senior Bradi Wall leads the conference with 12, while freshman Holly Hoffman and junior Brianna Luna are tied for fourth with five. Walls ranks sixth nationally, averaging .52 HBPs per game.

Megan Blank leads the Big Ten with 31 RBIs, ranks sixth with 49 total bases, and fourth in slugging percentage (.700). Blank and junior Kayla Massey are tied for third with five home runs. Senior Johnnie Dowling is tied for the league lead with two triples. She ranks seventh in runs scored (20) and fourth in stolen bases (10). Iowa is second in the league in runs scored (115) and third with five triples.

Kayla Massey has been doing it all for the Hawkeyes as of late. The junior is 7-4 inside the circle with a 2.68 ERA. She has tossed 10 complete games in 11 starts, with two shutouts. At the plate, Massey leads Iowa with a .391 batting average. She is also tied for the team lead in home runs with Megan Blank (five) and owns a .656 slugging percentage. Massey has appeared in 22 of Iowa’s 23 games, recording seven multi-hit games and four multiple-RBI games. The Foothill Ranch, Calif., native has hit safely in 17-of-21 games in which she has batted, and reached base in 18. She has reached base in 10-straight contests entering the weekend.

The Hawkeyes will face a difficult schedule in 2013. Iowa will play 13 opponents that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, including defending national champion Alabama. The Hawkeyes will play 11 teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the latest polls (USA Today/NFCA / ESPN.com/USA Softball) — Alabama (No. 4/6), Missouri (No. 8/8), Louisville (No. 11/11), Michigan (No. 15/14), Louisiana-Lafayette (No. 22/25), Kentucky (No. 17/17), Stanford (No. 16/18), Oregon State (No. 23/RV), Nebraska (RV/No. 21), North Carolina (No. 24/24), Wisconsin (RV). The Hawkeyes are 3-3 against ranked opponents (Louisiana Lafayette, 1-1; Alabama, 0-2; Stanford, 1-0; Oregon State, 1-0).

The Hawkeyes, winners of five straight overall, finished with a perfect 4-0 mark in the Easton Invitational on the campus of Cal State Fullerton, March 1-2. Iowa defeated two top-25 opponents — No. 15 Stanford (7-6) and No. 24 Oregon State (9-3) — and Cal State Fullerton (7-0) and CSU Bakersfield (5-3). The Cardinal had won 10-of-11 entering the contest, while the Hawkeyes ended the Beavers’ 12-game win streak.

Sophomore Megan Blank was named Big Ten Player of the Week on March 4, garnering her first career weekly honor. The Culver City, Calif., native hit .429 in her home state, leading Iowa to wins against No. 15 Stanford (7-6), No. 24 Oregon State (9-3), Cal State Fullerton (7-0) and CSU Bakersfield (5-3), March 1-2. She recorded at least one RBI in every game, recording eight in all, and scored five runs. Blank paced Iowa with two RBIs in the win over the Cardinal, who had won 10-of-11 entering the contest. She recorded a multi-hit game against the Beavers, finishing 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run, two runs scored and four RBIs. Oregon State entered the contest with a 12-game win streak. In the victory over the Titans, she finished 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. She added a triple and an RBI against Bakersfield. It marks Iowa’s first Player of the Week honor since April 18, 2011, when catcher Liz Watkins garnered the accolade.

Six Hawkeyes hail from the state of California: freshmen Erin Erickson (Oakland) and Sammi Gyerman (San Pedro), sophomore Megan Blank (Culver City), and juniors Brianna Luna (Indio), Nikki Gentile (Martinez) and Kayla Massey (Foothill Ranch). The group had a big weekend March 1-2 in Fullerton, Calif. Erickson saw action in two contests and Gentile swiped two bases. Massey finished 2-0 in the circle and had two home runs at the plate. Blank hit .429 en route to Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Luna notched a double and two runs scored and Gyerman hit .308 with a double and three RBIs.

The Hawkeyes moved to 10-5 overall after finishing 3-2 in the Bama Bash Feb. 22-24 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Iowa defeated Winthrop twice and Western Illinois in the finale, and dropped two decisions to No. 1 Alabama. The Hawkeyes took second place in the tournament behind the host Crimson Tide.

Three Hawkeyes — Johnnie Dowling, Chelsea Lyon and Kayla Massey — were named to the Bama Bash All-Tournament Team. Dowling hit .438 over the weekend in the leadoff spot. The senior tallied seven hits and five runs to lead the team. The Des Moines, Iowa, native added a triple and an RBI, recording a .550 on-base percentage. Dowling also swiped three bases and registered three multi-hit games. Lyon moved to 5-1 on the season after finishing 2-0 with two complete games. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native posted a 1.62 ERA in 13 innings pitched. The senior struck out seven while limiting opposing hitters to a .188 batting average. Massey had another stellar weekend at the plate. The junior hit .462 with a home run and five RBIs. She posted a .692 slugging percentage and scored one run. Inside the circle, the Foothill Ranch, Calif., native recorded two complete games against the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

Iowa won the Lovelace Invitational, Feb. 15-17, in Denton, Texas, finishing with a 4-1 mark. The Hawkeyes opened with victories over Dayton (3-0) and Oklahoma State (3-1, eight innings). Iowa continued its winnings ways on day two, downing Nebraska-Omaha (2-1) and host North Texas (4-1), before dropping a 4-3 decision to Oklahoma State in the finale. The Hawkeyes and Mavericks both finished 4-1, but Iowa captured the title by way of its head-to-head victory over Nebraska-Omaha.

Megan Blank and Kayla Massey were named to the 2013 Lovelace Invitational All-Tournament Team. Massey, one of two pitchers named to the squad, was named Tournament MVP, and Blank was a unanimous selection. The duo led Iowa to the tournament title. Massey did it all for the Hawkeyes during the five-game tournament, at the plate and inside the circle. The junior finished the weekend with a 0.39 ERA in three appearances (two starts). She allowed only eight hits in 18 innings pitched and allowed one earned run, while recording 14 strikeouts. Massey shut down Oklahoma State on day one, allowing zero earned runs over eight innings, as she led Iowa to the extra innings victory. She struck out three. On day two, Massey tossed a gem against host North Texas, throwing another complete game, allowing one run on two Mean Green hits. She equaled a career-best with nine strikeouts. Massey also tossed three scoreless, no-hit innings in relief in the finale. At the plate, Massey registered the highest batting average of the tournament. She hit .500, notching six hits in 12 at-bats. She posted two RBIs, a run scored and her first career home run. Blank hit .400 with two runs scored, six hits, three RBIs, one home run, and a walk. She recorded two multi-hit games. Blank tallied the game-winning long ball in Iowa’s victory against the Cowgirls on Feb. 15.

Iowa opened its 2013 campaign in Houston, Texas, Feb. 8-10, at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic, hosted by the University of Houston. The Hawkeyes finished with a 3-2 mark, earning wins over Texas State (5-4), host Houston (4-1), and No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette (13-10). Iowa dropped its season opener to Lipscomb (4-0) and the tournament finale to the Cajuns (11-0). The win over the Cajuns marked 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.

Sophomore Megan Blank was named a Primetime Performer by CollegeSoftball360 for her performance in Iowa’s opening weekend tournament — the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. Blank, who became the ninth player in school history to garner first team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman, and the ninth to earn all-region recognition as a freshman in 2012, picked up where she left off a year ago, hitting .333 in Iowa’s first weekend. She led the Hawkeyes to wins over Texas State, Houston and No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette. Blank had the game-winning two-run double in Iowa’s come-from-behind win over Texas State on Friday. Saturday, she hit two home runs in leading Iowa to wins over the Cougars and Cajuns. Against No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, Blank had a career-best five RBIs. For the weekend, she batted .333 with five hits, two home runs, a double and eight RBIs. She slugged .800 and matched her home run total from a year ago in one day’s work on Saturday.

Junior pitcher Kayla Massey and sophomore infielder Megan Blank were selected to the 2013 Big Ten Preseason All-Conference First Team by College Sports Madness. Massey, a 2012 first team All-Big Ten selection, earns the nod after posting a 15-11 record with a 2.04 ERA last year, notching seven shutouts and 24 complete games in 26 starts. She had 120 strikeouts over 185.2 innings. A native of Foothill Ranch, Calif., she compiled 27 wins and a 2.60 ERA in 68 career appearances inside the circle during her first two seasons. Blank became the ninth player in school history in 2012 to garner first team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman and ninth player in program history to earn all-region recognition as a freshman. The Culver City, Calif., native was a NFCA Second Team All-Midwest region selection. She started all 53 games at shortstop and led the team with a .390 batting average with 34 runs and 29 RBIs. Blank turned in a team-best 24 extra base hits with 17 doubles, five triples and two home runs. The 17 doubles are tied for fourth in the Iowa record books, the triples are tied for eighth and the batting average is tied for 10th.

The Hawkeyes return two pitchers — senior Chelsea Lyon and junior Kayla Massey — that hurled 354.2 innings pitched out of 355.0 total innings for the team in 2012. In 2012, Lyon ranked eighth in the Big Ten in ERA (2.61) and opposing batting average (.238), and 11th in innings (169.0) and strikeouts (114). Massey was named first team All-Big Ten in 2012, posting a 15-11 record with a 2.04 ERA. Massey notched seven shutouts and 24 complete games in 26 starts. She tallied 120 strikeouts over 185.2 innings and limited opposing hitters to a .222 batting average. Massey went 9-3 with a 1.95 ERA in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes finished second in the Big Ten in pitching (2.31 ERA) in 2012.

Head coach Marla Looper has two more pitchers at her disposal in 2013. Freshmen Shayla Starkenburg and Micaela Whitney will give the Hawkeyes pitching options. Starkenburg, who hails from Ankeny, Iowa, was elected as the 2012 5A Pitcher of the Year and first team all-state honoree as a senior, after posting a 31-0 record with a 0.58 ERA. She had 222 strikeouts in 191.2 innings, allowing 20 runs (16 earned) and 99 hits, guiding Ankeny High School to a 39-6 overall record en route to the state title. Whitney was a Nebraska Coaches Association All Star first team and Nebraska All-State Class A selection as a senior. She went 20-9 with a 1.42 ERA over 182.2 innings pitched, while posting 217 strikeouts and allowing 69 runs. The rookie duo joins Lyon, Massey, and junior Brittanee Grove on the pitching staff.

The Hawkeyes were third in fielding (.967) in the Big Ten a year ago. The squad turned 26 double plays during the course of the season to rank sixth nationally in double plays per game (.49).

Senior Bradi Wall, a member of the Canadian Women’s National Baseball Team, was selected as recipient of the team’s 2012 Jimmy Rattlesnake Award in November. The award is presented annually to the player who shows great performance and sportsmanship. Wall did not play prep softball, as it was not sponsored in her hometown. She played on the boys’ baseball team.

The Hawkeyes return two of their three outfield starters in seniors Ashley Akers and Johnnie Dowling. Akers played in 52-of-53 games with 52 starts, all coming in left field in 2012. Dowling started all 53 games in center field a year ago, making her one of three Hawkeyes to start every game. The duo has started all 23 games in 2013.

At the plate, junior Johnnie Dowling made the transition from a right-handed hitter to a left-handed slapper following the 2011 season to utilize her speed. The Des Moines, Iowa, native hit .216 with five home runs as a sophomore. Dowling hit a career-best .308 last season from the left side of the plate on her way to third team All-Big Ten honors. She also had career highs in runs (35), hits (53) and walks (9). Dowling had 15 multi-hit games and led the team with a .381 average during conference play.

The Hawkeyes have seven new faces on the 2013 roster — seven incoming freshmen. Iowa’s roster is full of youth, as 10-of-the-22 players are underclassmen. The Hawkeyes have two sophomores, seven juniors and five seniors (Ashley Akers, Johnnie Dowling, Sam Valentine, Bradi Wall and Chelsea Lyon). Iowa returns four players that earned All-Big Ten honors a year ago (Dowling, juniors Kayla Massey and Michelle Zoeller, and sophomore Megan Blank).

UI assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson was selected as the 2011 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year. She earned the honor after helping Team USA to gold medals at the World Cup of Softball VII and the Pan American Games. May-Johnson batted a team-best .418 with team highs in home runs (six), runs (26) and RBI (36). In 2012, May-Johnson helped the USA Softball Team to the gold medal at the 2012 World Cup of Softball presented by Lumber Liquidators. May-Johnson started 5-of-6 games for Team USA, posting a .357 (5-of-14) batting average with three runs, two RBIs and two walks. Her best game came in a 9-0 victory over Canada, where she went 2-for-2 with a run scored. The Americans posted a perfect 6-0 record during the competition, and they outscored their opponents, 41-3, in the five day event.

The Grove triplets — Brittanee, Malloree and Steviee — have been reunited as teammates on the Iowa softball team. Brittanee and Malloree played their freshman seasons at Creighton University, while Steviee was a catcher at Indiana State.

Former Hawkeye Chelsey Carmody is back with the Iowa softball program, serving as volunteer assistant coach. Carmody started 208 career games in the Iowa infield. A career .335 hitter, she was a team co-captain and was the recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award as a senior. She batted .320 or higher during each of her four seasons in the Black and Gold, totaling 234 career hits, 11 home runs, 87 RBI and 42 stolen bases. Carmody played for UI head coach Marla Looper in 2011 as a senior.

Iowa has made four Women’s College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history, and the four WCWS appearances equal the second most in conference history. The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships (1989, 1997, 2000, 2003) and two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003).

The Big Ten Tournament is back this season for the first time since 2008. Following the conclusion of the regular season, Iowa will travel to Lincoln, Neb., May 9-12. The Hawkeyes have claimed two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003) and have won 21 games in the event all-time, marking the second most of any team. The conference tournament was discontinued from 2009-12.

Iowa will make 11 appearances on the Big Ten Network or BTN.com during the 2013 season. The Hawkeyes will make their debut during their three-game set against Nebraska at Pearl Field (April 5-7). All three contests will be shown on BTN.com. Iowa’s home doubleheader against No. 8 Missouri on April 17 is slated for BTN.com. Two contests during Iowa’s three-game set at Michigan (April 19-21) will be shown live. The opener on April 19 can be seen on BTN.com. The Hawkeyes will make their BTN debut on April 21 in the series finale. Both games of Iowa’s doubleheader against Illinois at Pearl Field on April 23 will be shown live on BTN. The Hawkeyes will host Penn State on April 18 at 1 p.m., in a contest slated for BTN.com. Iowa’s annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup with Iowa State on May 1 can also be seen on BTN.com. The contest is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Pearl Field. The Big Ten Network will also choose five “wildcard” games during the course of the regular season that will be televised live. The network will also air the semifinal games and championship game of the Big Ten Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. (May 11-12). Highlights and coverage of Big Ten softball will be featured on the Diamond Report, which airs Sunday nights during the season beginning in April. Hosts Rick Pizzo, Mike Hall and various analysts will discuss Big Ten matchups and breakout performances from the weekend games.

Iowa continues action March 17-18 in Louisville, Ky. The Hawkeyes will play No. 25 North Carolina (11:30 a.m. CT) and Ball State (2 p.m.) on Sunday, the 17th, to open play. Iowa continues action on Monday, the 18th, facing Ball State a second time (10 a.m.), and No. 13 Louisville (12:30 p.m.). The Hawkeyes then travel to Lexington, Ky., to face No. 15 Kentucky on March 20 at 3 p.m. CT. Iowa opens its home slate and Big Ten schedule March 22-24 against Minnesota.