Wildcats Top Iowa to Avoid Sweep


April 14, 2013

Box Score

EVANSTON, Ill. — The University of Iowa softball team was unable to complete a sweep of Northwestern on Sunday, dropping an 11-3 decision in five innings in the final game of a three-game set at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. Iowa won the series, claiming the opener on Friday, 12-7, and the middle game on Saturday, 15-14.

Iowa falls to 24-16 overall and 4-8 in Big Ten play; Northwestern improves to 21-16 and 6-5 in league action.

“I liked our grit and determination on Friday and Saturday,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We lacked that today, and that is why we were unable to complete the series sweep. It is not easy to get a sweep in this conference. Northwestern is a quality club, but I am very confident in our club.

“We have to play better defensively. We cannot give other teams opportunities they do not deserve. Offensively, we left too many runners on.”

The home team struck first with a four spot in the opening inning. The Wildcats pushed across four runs on three hits to grab an early 4-0 lead.

Iowa answered with two runs in the third. Senior Bradi Wall — the national leader in hit-by-pitches — was plunked for the 23rd time this season to open the frame. Sophomore Megan Blank was hit-by-pitch, before junior Michelle Zoeller was also plunked to load the bases. Freshman Sammi Gyerman stepped to the dish and delivered, smacking a two-run single up the middle to score Blank and Nikki Gentile, who entered as a pinch runner.

With two on in the top of the fourth, junior Kayla Massey hit a ball on the roof of Welsh-Ryan Arena in left, but it was ruled foul. In the bottom half, the Wildcats used a solo home run to extend their lead to 5-2.

In the fifth, freshman Whitney Repole lifted to right, and it was dropped to allow Zoeller to score from first. Zoeller reached with one out on her second hit-by-pitch of the game.

The Wildcats answered and pushed across six runs in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of the second Iowa error, to earn the 11-3 run-rule victory.

Chelsea Lyon started for the Hawkeyes and took the loss. The senior tossed four innings, allowing 11 runs (eight earned) on seven hits. She struck out three. Freshman Micaela Whitney made her second relief appearance of the series, allowing one hit in two-thirds of an inning.

After allowing 27 runs to Iowa during the first two games of the set, Northwestern limited Iowa to three runs on two hits in the finale. Amy Letourneau earned the win, pitching five innings.

Blank finished 1-for-1 with a run, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. She reached base in all 14 plate appearances during the three-game series, drawing eight walks, two HBPs and four hits, including a home run, triple and two singles. She scored three runs and knocked in three, recording a 2.250 slugging percentage. In the series opener, she tied the school record with four walks. Blank has reached base in the last 26 games.

“That does not happen very often,” said Looper about Blank not recording an out in the series. “She is a vital part of our offense.”

Iowa won the middle game, 15-14. The 15 runs marked the most by Iowa in a conference game since May 3, 1997, when the Hawkeyes won at Penn State, 19-1. It also marked the most runs for Iowa against the Wildcats in 100 meetings. The 15 runs equaled the second most ever by Iowa in a Big Ten game.

The Iowa offense compiled 30 runs in the three-game set. Six Hawkeyes (Blank, Ashley Akers, Gyerman, Wall, Massey and Holly Hoffman) hit .300 or better.

The Hawkeyes continue action on Wednesday, hosting No. 8 Missouri in a doubleheader at Pearl Field. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Northwestern 11, Iowa 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Iowa (24-16, 4-8) 0 0 2 0 1 X X 3 2 2
Northwestern (21-16, 6-5) 4 0 0 1 6 X X 11 8 2
Game Decision
W: Amy Letourneau (NW) 14-9
L: Chelsea Lyon (IOWA) 8-8