May 3, 2013
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The University of Iowa softball team defeated Purdue, 4-3, in nine innings on Friday at the Boilermaker Softball Complex in the opening game of its final regular season series. Tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth, Bradi Wall scored the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by Michelle Zoeller.
Iowa improves to 28-23 overall and 6-15 in Big Ten play; Purdue falls to 22-29 and 8-13 in conference action. The Hawkeyes eclipse their win total from a year ago when they finished 27-26 overall. The 28th victory marks the most for Iowa since finishing 42-16 in 2009. The Hawkeyes won 25 games in 2010, and 27 in each of the last two seasons.
“It was a great battle with Purdue today,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “It was a boxing match. They never gave up, and neither did our girls. We ended up delivering the final blow today, and that is hard to do. I like the fact that we gritted it out.”
After four scoreless innings, the Hawkeyes — 3-0 in extra-inning games — struck first in the top of the fifth. Erin Erickson opened the inning with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ashley Akers. Johnnie Dowling dropped down a perfect bunt single and advanced to second to place two runners in scoring position for Wall. Wall came through, smacking a single to right to score both and give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Purdue answered in the bottom half with two runs of its own, using a sacrifice fly and an RBI single to even the score at 2-2.
The home team loaded the bases in the sixth with one away. Micaela Whitney entered in relief for starter Chelsea Lyon and worked out of the jam, coaxing an out at home and a flyout to send the game to the seventh still tied at 2-2.
In the eighth, Iowa — winner of three-straight games — loaded the bases. Kayla Massey singled with one out and Brianna Luna reached on a Purdue error that would have ended the inning. Following a walk to Erickson, Akers slapped a grounder back to the pitcher, who could not handle it. Sam Valentine raced home from third to give Iowa a 3-2 advantage.
Purdue scored an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score for a second time at 3-3. Iowa responded in the next frame, pushing across the go-ahead run. After a Purdue pitching change, Wall reached via a hit-by-pitch — her league-leading 28th of the season — and advanced to third with one out. Zoeller stepped to the dish and scored Wall from third with a sacrifice fly to right.
Whitney tossed a scoreless bottom of the ninth to preserve the extra-inning victory. The freshman earned the win, allowing one run (zero earned) in three and two-thirds of relief. Lyon took a no-decision, allowing two runs on six hits in five and a third. The two combined to strike out four Boilermakers.
“They did a good job,” said Looper. “There were not many balls that got to the outfield that were hit solid. They kept the ball in the infield and let our defense play. Both had great mindsets going in and I was proud of how they pitched in the circle.”
Lilly Fecho took the loss for Purdue in relief, allowing a run in the ninth.
Iowa and Purdue both posted nine hits, as four Hawkeyes equaled game-highs with two hits. Dowling (2-for-4), Wall (2-for-4), Massey (2-for-5) and Akers (2-for-3) all posted multi-hit games. Both teams squandering multiple scoring chances, as Iowa left 10 runners on base and Purdue stranded 14.
“Purdue kept answering after we scored,” said Looper. “We had plenty of runners on that we did not advance and score. We need to do a better job adjusting.”
The Hawkeyes and Boilermakers resume action Saturday at noon (CT) in the middle game of their three-game set.
|Iowa 4, Purdue 3||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Iowa (28-23, 6-15)||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||1||1||4||9||2|
|Purdue (22-29, 8-13)||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||1||0||3||9||2|
|W: Micaela Whitney (IOWA) 4-3|
|L: Lilly Fecho (PU) 8-15|