May 6, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team will face Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. The ninth-seeded Hawkeyes, and the eighth-seeded Buckeyes, will meet at 2 p.m. (CT) in the second game of the day. The tournament, hosted by Nebraska, is a single-elimination format. All games will be played at Bowlin Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
The winner will advance to play No. 1 seed and league champion Michigan on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner of that game advances to the semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. The tournament title game is set for noon Sunday. The semifinals and championship game will be broadcast live on BTN. Thursday’s opening-round and Friday’s quarterfinal contests will be streamed online at Huskers.com.
The tournament champion will earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.
Iowa (30-23, 8-15) and Ohio State (33-21, 10-13) met in a nonconference game earlier this season in College Park, Md., in the Miken Invitational (March 10). The Hawkeyes routed the Buckeyes, 8-0, in six innings as Holly Hoffman hit a walk-off grand slam. Iowa out-hit the Buckeyes, 12-3. Senior Johnnie Dowling finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and sophomore Megan Blank went 2-for-4 with a run. Junior Kayla Massey earned the win in the circle, tossing a complete game shutout. She scattered three hits in six innings.
The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series against Ohio State, 64-37. Iowa won 2-of-3 against the Buckeyes a year ago.
Entering the tournament, the Hawkeyes have won five-straight games, and six of their last eight overall. The five-game winning streak matches Iowa’s longest of the season. Iowa finished the regular season at 30-23 overall and 8-15 in Big Ten play. The 30 victories mark the most for Iowa since finishing 42-16 in 2009.
The Hawkeyes swept Purdue last weekend in West Lafayette, Ind. Both teams finished 8-15 in league play, but the Hawkeyes earned the higher seed due to Iowa’s 3-0 head-to-head mark.
The Big Ten Tournament is back this season for the first time since 2008. 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.