Late Lead Falls Short at No. 9 Michigan


April 20, 2013

Box Score

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Iowa softball team was unable to close out the opening game of a three-game set at No. 9 Michigan on Saturday, falling 5-3 at Alumni Field. Michigan grabbed its first lead of the game with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Iowa falls to 24-17 overall and 4-9 in conference play; Big Ten-leading Michigan improves to 37-7 and 14-0 in league action. The Wolverines have won 19-straight games — the longest streak in the nation.

“We did not step out there and own the field,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We gave them extra opportunities and let them get back in the ball game. When you give a team like that chances, they are going to take advantage of them, and they did.”

Iowa out-hit Michigan, 10-5, losing for just the third time when notching more hits than its opponents (18-3). Johnnie Dowling posted her team-leading 17th multi-hit game of the season, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Michelle Zoeller (2-for-4), Kayla Massey (2-for-3), and Ashley Akers (2-for-3) added multi-hit contests. Megan Blank and Brianna Luna also found the hit column. Blank, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, has reached base in 27-straight games, including all 13 of Iowa’s league contests.

The visitors struck first in the opening inning. Dowling started the game with a leadoff double down the line in left, and came around to score on an RBI single by Massey. The Hawkeyes entered the game with a 17-2 record when scoring first.

Iowa extended its lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth, using an RBI groundout by Dowling with the bases loaded to score Zoeller from third.

Michigan posted its first run and hit of the game in the bottom half, cutting the lead to 2-1 on a solo home run by Sierra Romero. Romero shares the league lead with 18 long balls.

The Hawkeye offense stranded 10 runners, and Michigan — the league’s highest scoring offense — took advantage of its opportunity in the sixth.

With one away, the Wolverines used a single, in between two walks, to load the bases. With the infield in, two back-to-back soft singles made their way up the middle to plate three runs before a sacrifice fly pushed the Michigan lead to 5-2.

Blank doubled to center to open the seventh, and eventually scored on an RBI single by Zoeller, but it was too late as the home team closed out the series-opening 5-3 victory.

Massey took the loss for the Hawkeyes. The junior allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits, while striking out two. Michigan starter Sara Driesenga took a no-decision, surrendering two runs on four hits in three and a third. Haylie Wagner earned the win in relief to move to 14-1, allowing one run on six hits in three and two-thirds.

“We have to go in tomorrow and be the aggressor,” said Looper. “We started strong today, but left a lot of runners on. We have to take care of what we can control.”

The Hawkeyes and Wolverines will conclude the set with a doubleheader on Sunday. The first game is set for 11 a.m. (CT). The second game will follow at 2 p.m. (CT), and will be televised live on BTN. Lisa Byington and Jennie Ritter will call the action.

#9 Michigan 5, Iowa 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Iowa (24-17, 4-9) 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 10 3
Michigan (37-7, 14-0) 0 0 0 1 0 4 X 5 5 2
Game Decision
W: Haylie Wagner (UM) 14-1
L: Kayla Massey (IOWA) 13-9