Iowa Hosts Minnesota in B1G, Home Opener

March 21, 2013

Complete Notes

The University of Iowa softball team opens its home slate and Big Ten schedule this weekend with a three-game series against Minnesota. The Hawkeyes (19-8) and Golden Gophers (17-10) will open play Friday at 4 p.m. before meeting at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All games will be played at Pearl Field in Iowa City. Admission to Pearl Field is $5 for adults. There is no charge for youth (high school age and younger) or UI students with a valid student ID.

Fans can listen via the All-Access page at Rob Brooks, the voice of Iowa softball, will call the action. Hawkeye All-Access is a subscription service that charges $9.95 per month.

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

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

Iowa will host Minnesota for a three-game series this weekend at Pearl Field for its 2013 Big Ten Conference and home opener. Friday, fans are encouraged to arrive early for batting practice to become a member of the BP Club. Fans who attend batting practice will become part of this club, receive a free shirt and become eligible for raffle prizes all season. Fans will also have the opportunity to pick up free Iowa softball magnets, posters and schedule cards. Softball bingo is scheduled for Sunday.

Head coach Marla Looper led the Hawkeyes to a runner-up finish in the Big Ten a year ago — the program’s highest finish since winning the league title in 2003. Iowa dropped two of its first three conference series before winning five straight to close out the season. It was the first time the team had won five straight series since the 2004 season. Iowa entered the final weekend with a conference title within reach, but it couldn’t close the gap with Michigan despite taking 2-of-3 games at Minnesota. The Hawkeyes finished with a 27-26 overall and 16-8 conference record in 2012, winning 11 of their final 15 Big Ten games. Looper is 25-19 at Iowa during league play.

Iowa (19-8) is off to its best start since the 2009 season, when it opened with a 23-4 record in its first 27 games. The Hawkeyes have won 10-of-13 overall. Iowa has five wins over ranked opponents (No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 11 Louisville, No. 15 Stanford, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 24 Oregon State).

Fans interested in attending home games at Pearl Field should visit 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.

? Minnesota is 17-10 overall. The Gophers are 5-4 in true road games and 12-6 at neutral sites.
? Iowa and Minnesota have played two common opponents, Stanford and Louisville. The Gophers fell 16-8 to Louisville in six innings and dropped two games at Stanford. The Hawkeyes went 1-1 against Louisville, and defeated Stanford.
? Minnesota’s Kaitlyn Richardson leads the Big Ten in batting average (.487) and ranks second in slugging percentage (.795).

? Iowa is 58-38 all-time against Minnesota.
? The Hawkeyes took 2-of-3 from Minnesota in the final series of last season. Iowa won the opener, 1-0, behind a gem from Kayla Massey, and claimed the finale, 5-4.
? The Hawkeyes are 3-2 the last two seasons under head coach Marla Looper.

The Hawkeyes won at No. 11 Louisville on Monday, 6-2, handing the Cardinals their first home loss during the regular season since April 13, 2011 — in a streak that spanned 37 games. Iowa also ended Louisville’s 11-game winning streak. Massey earned the complete game victory, allowing two first-inning runs. Brianna Luna paced the Hawkeyes, tallying her first career three-hit game. The junior finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Johnnie Dowling added her 10th multi-hit contest of the year, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Megan Blank extended her hitting streak to 11 games.

Iowa won at No. 21 Kentucky on Wednesday, 3-1, behind a complete game from starter Kayla Massey and timely hitting. The Hawkeyes earned their second victory of the week at a top-25 opponent, after winning at No. 11 Louisville on Monday. The game was shown live on Fox Sports South. Massey earned the victory, registering her 12th complete game in 13 starts. She won her sixth-straight decision, allowing one run on four hits. Megan Blank, Michelle Zoeller and Ashley Akers finished with multi-hit games to pace the offense. Blank went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, posting her 10th multi-hit game of the season. Zoeller finished 2-for-3 with a run scored, recording five hits total in the last two games combined. Akers went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Kayla Massey has been doing it all for the Hawkeyes as of late. The junior is 9-4 inside the circle with a 2.34 ERA, winning her last six decisions. She has tossed 12 complete games in 13 starts, with two shutouts. At the plate, Massey is second on the team with a .372 batting average. She is also tied for the team lead in home runs with Megan Blank (five) and owns a .603 slugging percentage. Massey has appeared in 26 of Iowa’s 27 games, recording seven multi-hit games and four multiple-RBI games. The Foothill Ranch, Calif., native has hit safely in 21-of-25 games in which she has batted, and reached base in 22. She has reached base in 14-straight contests entering the weekend.

The Hawkeyes have been hit-by-pitch 41 times to start the 2013 season. Iowa leads the Big Ten in the category. Senior Bradi Wall leads the conference with 15, freshman Holly Hoffman is third (seven) and junior Brianna Luna is tied for seventh with five. Walls ranks third nationally.

? Megan Blank leads the Big Ten with 37 RBIs, ranks sixth with 56 total bases, and is eighth in slugging percentage (.691).
? Blank and junior Kayla Massey are tied for ninth with five home runs.
? Senior Johnnie Dowling and junior Michelle Zoeller are tied for second with two triples.
? Dowling ranks eighth in runs scored (23) and third in stolen bases (12).
? Iowa is fifth in the league in runs scored (133) and third with six triples.

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 nine teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the latest polls (USA Today/NFCA / Softball) — Alabama (No. 4/6), Missouri (No. 7/7), Louisville (No. 11/11), Michigan (No. 14/14), Stanford (No. 15/16), Kentucky (No. 21/21), Nebraska (No. 25/20), Oregon State (No. 24/RV), Wisconsin (RV), Louisiana-Lafayette (RV). The Hawkeyes are 5-4 against ranked opponents (Louisiana Lafayette, 1-1; Alabama, 0-2; Stanford, 1-0; Oregon State, 1-0; Louisville, 1-1; Kentucky, 1-0).

Four Big Ten teams are receiving votes in one or both national rankings this week. Michigan is ranked 14th in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls and Nebraska is rated 20th in the USA Softball poll and 25th in the NFCA rankings. Iowa is receiving votes in both polls and Wisconsin is the first team outside the top 25 in the USA Softball rankings.

The Hawkeyes scored 27 runs in 18 innings in three wins over Ohio State, Radford and Maryland on 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, 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 27 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 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 Iowa’s home doubleheader against No. 8 Missouri on April 17 is slated for 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 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 Iowa’s annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup with Iowa State on May 1 can also be seen on 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.