3 Hawkeyes Earn All-Big Ten Honors

May 8, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three members of the University of Iowa softball team earned All-Big Ten recognition, the league office announced Wednesday. Sophomore Megan Blank was named to the first team and senior Johnnie Dowling earned second team honors. Junior Kayla Massey was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team at pitcher. The trio all earned All-Big Ten honors a year ago. Senior Sam Valentine was Iowa’s Sportsmanship Award Honoree.

Blank earns her second-straight first team accolade, becoming the sixth Hawkeye in program history to earn first team honors in each of her first two seasons. Massey was named first team all-league a year ago, while Dowling was named to the third team.

Blank, who became the ninth player in school history 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 last year in 2012, ranks fourth or higher in the Big Ten in seven major hitting categories. The Culver City, Calif., native is second in the Big Ten with 58 RBIs, ranks third with a .436 batting average, 15 doubles and 68 hits, and fourth with 115 total bases, a .773 slugging percentage, and a .566 on-base percentage.

Blank is hitting .436. The single-season school record is .428, set by Kim Davis in 1993. The sophomore’s career average is .413. The school record is .409, set by Lea Twigg (1996-97). Blank’s 58 RBIs mark the second-highest single-season total in program history. Debbie Bilbao posted a school-record 61 RBIs in 1997. Blank also has 11 home runs this season — the third-highest single-season total.

Blank leads the team with 19 multiple-RBI games and is second with 19 multi-hit games. She posted a 36-game reached-base streak and notched three or more RBIs eight times. Blank has earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors twice this season and was named to the 2013 Lovelace Invitational All-Tournament team.

“Megan definitely deserves this honor,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “Teams have great respect for her and did not throw to her if possible, but when they did she did a nice job for us. She was very consistent, offensively and defensively. Our team relies on her heavily, and it is nice that others recognize what an important part of our program she is.”

Dowling, who hails from Des Moines, Iowa, is second on the team with a .350 batting average and paces the team with 21 multi-hit games. The former West Des Moines Valley standout has started all 53 games in center and in the leadoff spot, and has started 193-of-199 career games. She is second in the Big Ten and 38th nationally with four triples. Dowling sits at seventh in the conference in runs scored (46) and eighth in stolen bases (19) — the 46 runs equal the seventh-highest total in Iowa history. Dowling ranks ninth in program history in runs (120) and 10th in stolen bases (52).

“Johnnie has embraced her role as a leadoff hitter and as a senior, trying to make things happen,” said Looper. “She does her job at the plate and is the director in our outfield. She is very deserving of this accolade. Johnnie is our table-setter — stealing bases and scoring a lot of runs for us. She is our spark plug.”

Massey, a native of Foothill Ranch, Calif., has posted a career-best 17 wins in the circle, registered a 1.000 fielding percentage, and hit .321 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs. The starting pitcher has won four games inside the circle against ranked foes (#15 Stanford, #11 Louisville, #21 Kentucky, #19 Nebraska) and tallied four shutouts (at Cal State Fullerton, vs. Ohio State, at Drake, at Purdue). She has recorded 25 complete games in 30 starts, and ranks eighth all-time in program history with 65 complete games.

In the lineup in almost every game this season after only 57 at-bats during her first two seasons, Massey holds the team’s longest hitting streak of the season (12 games) and second-longest reached-base streak (18 games). She has recorded 14 multi-hit games and seven multiple-RBI contests. Massey was named to the 2013 Lovelace Invitational All-Tournament Team as Tournament MVP, and was also selected to the Bama Bash All-Tournament Team.

“Our pitching staff has never been a strikeout staff,” said Looper. “They let our defense play and get a lot of groundballs. Our overall chances as a team are well above everybody else in the conference, and probably in the nation. It is nice to have great fielding pitchers that can field their position; that allows you to do some other things with the rest of your defense knowing they are solid in the circle. Kayla has done a nice job fielding her position.”

Iowa (30-23, 8-15) begins postseason action this week in the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa will face Ohio State (33-21, 10-13) in the first round on Thursday. The ninth-seeded Hawkeyes and 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.

Check out the complete list of Big Ten award winners.