Softball: A Look Back at 2013

June 28, 2013

Final 2013 Notes

The University of Iowa softball team finished 30-24 overall in 2013, posting the most wins since finishing 42-16 in 2009. The Hawkeyes tied for ninth in the Big Ten with an 8-15 mark.

Three members of the Iowa softball team earned All-Big Ten recognition. 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 earned 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.

Shortstop Megan Blank was named a 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) First Team All-Midwest Region selection, earning her second all-region honor in as many seasons. Blank is the sixth Hawkeye in program history to garner all-region honors in each of her first two seasons. The sophomore became the ninth player in program history to earn all-region recognition as a freshman last year, as she was named to the second team.

Ten Iowa softball student-athletes were named to the 2013 spring Academic All-Big Ten team. The softball program’s 10 honorees are a school record. The team’s previous best was seven in both 1994 and 1995. Ashley Akers, Johnnie Dowling, Nikki Gentile, Mallorree Grove, Steviee Grove, Tor Hawley, Chelsea Lyon, Sam Valentine, Bradi Wall and Michelle Zoeller were all named Academic All-Big Ten.

Blank hit .437 in 2013, setting Iowa’s single season batting average record. The previous record was .428, set by Kim Davis in 1993. The sophomore’s career average is .413, also marking the highest in program history. Blank’s 59 RBIs this year mark the second-highest single-season total in program history. Debbie Bilbao posted a school record 61 RBIs in 1997. Blank belted 11 home runs this season — the third-highest single-season total.

The Hawkeyes finished the regular season with an RPI of 33, and just missed the NCAA Tournament. Iowa was 39th in the final RPI — the fifth-highest mark in the Big Ten.

Shortstop Megan Blank was invited to the 2013 USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Camp, held in Oklahoma City on June 10-12 at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex. Blank, a sophomore, was one of 32 athletes, and one of six sophomores, invited.

The Big Ten Tournament returned in 2013 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 — the second most of any team. The conference tournament was discontinued from 2009-12. Iowa fell to Ohio State, 8-4, in the first round at Bowlin Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., as the Buckeyes rallied for the victory. The Hawkeyes held a 4-1 advantage moving to the bottom of the fifth before the Buckeyes plated six runs to take their first lead of the game.

The Hawkeyes won five-straight games, and 6-of-8 overall, entering postseason play. The five-game winning streak matched Iowa’s longest of the season.

? Iowa finished 39th in the final NCAA Division I Softball RPI.
? The Hawkeyes were 22-6 when scoring first, 19-0 when holding their foes to two runs or less, and 23-4 when out-hitting opponents.
? Iowa compiled six wins against ranked opponents: No. 11 Louisville, No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 15 Stanford, No. 19 Nebraska, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 24 Oregon State.
? Senior Johnnie Dowling finished second in the league with four triples. Dowling ranked 47th nationally.
? Iowa was hit-by-pitch 81 times this season to lead the Big Ten. Bradi Wall was plunked 29 times. The senior led the league and ranked third nationally.
? The Hawkeyes were 13-6 in neutral site games.

? Defensively, Iowa totaled 562 assists this season to rank second in the conference.
? On May 4, Kayla Massey blanked the Purdue offense, tossing a complete game shutout. The junior scattered five hits in eight innings. Of the 24 Boilermaker outs, Massey coaxed 20 groundouts, three strikeouts and one flyout.
? The Hawkeyes turned the fifth-most double plays in the league (18).
? Massey and senior Ashley Akers both finished with perfect fielding percentages (1.000).
? Megan Blank finished third in league assists (145) and fellow middle infielder Bradi Wall was fourth (144).

? Iowa swept Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., May 3-5, to conclude regular season action. 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.
? Hawkeye starter Massey limited the Purdue offense to four hits in the finale, throwing her second complete game in as many days against the Boilermakers to move to 17-12. She allowed two runs in 15 innings pitched during her two complete games in the series.

? Megan Blank finished second in the Big Ten with a .437 batting average, third in RBIs (59), slugging percentage (.766) and on-base percentage (.552), fourth with 15 doubles, sixth with 121 total bases, seventh with 35 walks and ninth with 11 home runs.
? Johnnie Dowling was tied for second in the league with four triples. Junior Michelle Zoeller was tied for fourth with three.
? Dowling ranked fifth in stolen bases (20) and eighth in runs scored (46) and hits (65).
? Bradi Wall led the Big Ten with 29 hit-by-pitches.
? Holly Hoffman ranked fourth in runners picked off (two) and runners caught stealing in league games only with eight.
? Kayla Massey finished seventh with 199.1 innings pitched and eighth with 17 wins.
? Micaela Whitney was fourth in games finished (12) and fifth in games in relief (14).

The Hawkeyes faced a difficult schedule in 2013. Iowa played 12 opponents that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, including five teams that went on to the Super Regionals and two that advanced to the Women’s College World Series. In addition, Iowa was scheduled to play two other NCAA Tournament teams — Missouri, North Carolina — in games that were cancelled due to weather. The Hawkeyes went 6-9 against ranked opponents (Louisiana Lafayette, 1-1; Alabama, 0-2; Stanford, 1-0; Oregon State, 1-0; Louisville, 1-1; Kentucky, 1-0; Nebraska, 1-2; Michigan, 0-3).

? Megan Blank batted .436, setting the new single-season school batting average record. The previous school record was .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 posted 59 RBIs this season — the second-highest total in school history. Debbie Bilbao posted a school record 61 RBIs in 1997.
? Blank belted 11 home runs this season — the third-highest single-season total.
? Johnnie Dowling scored 120 career runs — the ninth-highest total in program history. She scored 46 runs this season, equaling the seventh-highest total in Iowa history. The senior swiped 53 career bases, which ranks 10th. Her four triples this season equal the 16th-most in a season in school history.
? Junior Kayla Massey is eighth all-time with 65 complete games.
? Senior Chelsea Lyon ranks 10th in career strikeouts (350), ninth in career games pitched (115) and ninth with 51 complete games.

Iowa topped Penn State April 28, 5-0, and celebrated the careers of five Hawkeye seniors in the process. The Hawkeyes honored team manager Cameron Cole, Ashley Akers, Johnnie Dowling, Chelsea Lyon, Sam Valentine and Bradi Wall following the victory. Lyon and Wall had big games for Iowa in their final conference home game. Lyon tossed a complete game shutout, allowing three hits. Wall finished a perfect 3-for-3 with her third career home run.

? Iowa outlasted Northwestern, 15-14, in a marathon on April 13 in the middle game of a three-game set at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The slugfest included 29 runs on 25 hits and lasted almost three hours.
? The 15 runs are the most by Iowa in a conference game since May 3, 1997, when the Hawkeyes won at Penn State, 19-1.
? It also marks the most runs for Iowa against the Wildcats in 101 meetings.
? The 15 runs equal the second most ever by Iowa in a Big Ten game.
? The 29 combined runs are the most in a Big Ten game that the Hawkeyes have played in, and the second most overall in program history (31 in a 26-5 victory over Iowa State last year).
? After winning the opener, 12-7, the Hawkeyes posted 27 runs combined in the two road wins at Northwestern. Iowa pushed across 16 runs total in its first nine league games, entering the series.
? The 27 runs mark the most over two games since the Hawkeyes scored 33 in back-to-back wins against Central Michigan (7-5) and Iowa State (26-5) on Feb. 18, 2012.

? Iowa defeated Iowa State, 8-3, on May 1 in its home finale and the final Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series event of the year.
? Iowa, winner of the 2012-13 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series, extends its lead to 16-9. The Iowa women’s gymnastics team clinched the Cy-Hawk Series with a 196.375-194.575 victory over Iowa State on March 8. Iowa has claimed the last seven events in the series this year (wrestling, women’s basketball, men’s basketball, women’s swimming, women’s tennis, women’s gymnastics, softball). The academic points remain.
? The 12-event series awards two points (except football, which is worth three) to the winning school in each head-to-head match-up between the two institutions. Additionally, one point is awarded to an institution if the graduation rate of its student-athletes is greater than the national average as reported each fall by the NCAA.

? Iowa routed Drake, 18-0, in five innings on April 3 at Ron Buel Field behind a season-best 17 hits and a complete game victory from junior starter Kayla Massey.
? The Hawkeyes also posted season highs in runs (18), RBIs (15), home runs (three) and walks (seven).
? The 18 runs mark the most for Iowa since Feb. 18, 2012, when the Hawkeyes blasted Iowa State, 26-5, in five innings.
? Eleven players found the hit column, while four posted multi-hit games and three notched multi-RBI contests.
? The Hawkeyes, 34-10 all-time against the Bulldogs, posted their largest margin of victory over their in-state foes in series history.
? Senior Johnnie Dowling, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, scored a career-best four runs in the leadoff spot, finishing 2-for-5 at the plate.
? Megan Blank finished a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate, adding two RBIs and two runs. Massey helped herself at the plate, hitting her-team leading sixth home run of the season. She finished with three RBIs and also posted a game-high six assists in the field.

? In three games this season against in-state opponents, Iowa outscored Drake, UNI and Iowa State a combined, 36-4.
? Iowa routed Drake, 18-0, in five innings on April 3 at Ron Buel Field behind a season-best 17 hits and a complete game victory from junior starter Kayla Massey.
? The Hawkeyes defeated Northern Iowa, 10-1, in five innings on April 25 at Robinson-Dresser Field in Cedar Falls, Iowa, before topping Iowa State, 8-3, on May 1 in Iowa City.

Megan Blank was named Big Ten Player of the Week on April 15, earning her second Player of the Week honor this season (March 4). Blank reached base in all 14 plate appearances while leading the Hawkeyes to a series victory at Northwestern. The shortstop finished a perfect 4-for-4 when Northwestern chose to pitch to her, compiling a solo home run, a triple, two singles, three runs and three RBIs. She garnered eight walks and two hit-by-pitches. Blank added a stolen base to go along with a 2.250 slugging percentage. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice last season.

The Hawkeyes won at No. 11 Louisville on March 18, 6-2, handing the Cardinals their first home loss during the regular season since April 13, 2011 — in a streak that spanned 37 games. Iowa also ended Louisville’s 11-game winning streak. Massey earned the complete game victory, allowing two first-inning runs. Brianna Luna paced the Hawkeyes, tallying her first career three-hit game. The junior finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Johnnie Dowling added her 10th multi-hit contest of the year, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.

Iowa won at No. 21 Kentucky on March 20, 3-1, behind a complete game from starter Kayla Massey. The Hawkeyes earned their second victory of the week at a top-25 opponent, after winning at No. 11 Louisville on March 18. The game was shown live on Fox Sports South. Massey earned the victory, registering her 12th complete game in 13 starts. She won her sixth-straight decision, allowing one run on four hits. Megan Blank, Michelle Zoeller and Ashley Akers finished with multi-hit games to pace the offense. Blank went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, posting her 10th multi-hit game of the season. Zoeller finished 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Akers went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

The Hawkeyes scored 27 runs in 18 innings in three wins over Ohio State, Radford and Maryland on March 9-10 in College Park, Md. Iowa downed Maryland on March 9, 9-4, before earning two run-rule victories against Radford (10-0, five innings) and Ohio State (8-0, six innings) on March 10. The Iowa offense plated 18 runs on 23 hits in 11 innings against the Highlanders and Buckeyes, and starters Chelsea Lyon and Kayla Massey combined for 11 scoreless innings inside the circle. Freshman catcher Holly Hoffman capped Iowa’s big day with a walk-off grand slam against Ohio State. The contest against the Buckeyes counts as a nonconference game.

The Hawkeyes finished with a perfect 4-0 mark in the Easton Invitational on the campus of Cal State Fullerton, March 1-2. Iowa defeated two top-25 opponents — No. 15 Stanford (7-6) and No. 24 Oregon State (9-3) — and Cal State Fullerton (7-0) and CSU Bakersfield (5-3). The Cardinal had won 10-of-11 entering the contest, while the Hawkeyes ended the Beavers’ 12-game win streak.

Sophomore Megan Blank was named Big Ten Player of the Week on March 4. The Culver City, Calif., native hit .429 in her home state, leading Iowa to wins against No. 15 Stanford (7-6), No. 24 Oregon State (9-3), Cal State Fullerton (7-0) and CSU Bakersfield (5-3), March 1-2. She recorded at least one RBI in every game, recording eight in all, and scored five runs. Blank paced Iowa with two RBIs in the win over the Cardinal, who had won 10-of-11 entering the contest. She recorded a multi-hit game against the Beavers, finishing 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run, two runs scored and four RBIs. Oregon State entered the contest with a 12-game win streak. In the victory over the Titans, she finished 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and a RBI. She added a triple and a RBI against Bakersfield. It marked Iowa’s first Player of the Week honor since April 18, 2011, when catcher Liz Watkins garnered the accolade.

Six Hawkeyes hail from the state of California: freshmen Erin Erickson (Oakland) and Sammi Gyerman (San Pedro), sophomore Megan Blank (Culver City), and juniors Brianna Luna (Indio), Nikki Gentile (Martinez) and Kayla Massey (Foothill Ranch). The group had a big weekend March 1-2 in Fullerton, Calif. Erickson saw action in two contests and Gentile swiped two bases. Massey finished 2-0 in the circle and had two home runs at the plate. Blank hit .429 en route to Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Luna notched a double and two runs scored and Gyerman hit .308 with a double and three RBIs.

The Hawkeyes moved to 10-5 overall after finishing 3-2 in the Bama Bash Feb. 22-24 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Iowa defeated Winthrop twice and Western Illinois in the finale, and dropped two decisions to No. 1 Alabama. The Hawkeyes took second place in the tournament behind the host Crimson Tide.

Three Hawkeyes — Johnnie Dowling, Chelsea Lyon and Kayla Massey — were named to the Bama Bash All-Tournament Team. Dowling hit .438 over the weekend in the leadoff spot. The senior tallied seven hits and five runs to lead the team. The Des Moines, Iowa, native added a triple and a RBI, recording a .550 on-base percentage. Dowling also swiped three bases and registered three multi-hit games. Lyon moved to 5-1 on the season after finishing 2-0 with two complete games. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native posted a 1.62 ERA in 13 innings pitched. The senior struck out seven while limiting opposing hitters to a .188 batting average. Massey had another stellar weekend at the plate. The junior hit .462 with a home run and five RBIs. She posted a .692 slugging percentage and scored one run. Inside the circle, the Foothill Ranch, Calif., native recorded two complete games against the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

Iowa won the Lovelace Invitational, Feb. 15-17, in Denton, Texas, finishing with a 4-1 mark. The Hawkeyes opened with victories over Dayton (3-0) and Oklahoma State (3-1, eight innings). Iowa continued its winnings ways on day two, downing Nebraska-Omaha (2-1) and host North Texas (4-1), before dropping a 4-3 decision to Oklahoma State in the finale. The Hawkeyes and Mavericks both finished 4-1, but Iowa captured the title by way of its head-to-head victory over Nebraska-Omaha.

Megan Blank and Kayla Massey were named to the 2013 Lovelace Invitational All-Tournament Team. Massey, one of two pitchers named to the squad, was named Tournament MVP, and Blank was a unanimous selection. The duo led Iowa to the tournament title. Massey did it all for the Hawkeyes during the five-game tournament, at the plate and inside the circle. The junior finished the weekend with a 0.39 ERA in three appearances (two starts). She allowed only eight hits in 18 innings pitched and allowed one earned run, while recording 14 strikeouts. Massey shut down Oklahoma State on day one, allowing zero earned runs over eight innings, as she led Iowa to the extra-innings victory. She struck out three. On day two, Massey tossed a gem against host North Texas, throwing another complete game, allowing one run on two Mean Green hits. She equaled a career best with nine strikeouts. Massey also tossed three scoreless, no-hit innings in relief in the finale. At the plate, Massey registered the highest batting average of the tournament. She hit .500, notching six hits in 12 at-bats. She posted two RBIs, a run scored and her first career home run. Blank hit .400 with two runs scored, six hits, three RBIs, one home run, and a walk. She recorded two multi-hit games. Blank tallied the game-winning long ball in Iowa’s victory against the Cowgirls on Feb. 15.

Iowa opened its 2013 campaign in Houston, Texas, Feb. 8-10, at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic, hosted by the University of Houston. The Hawkeyes finished with a 3-2 mark, earning wins over Texas State (5-4), host Houston (4-1), and No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette (13-10). Iowa dropped its season opener to Lipscomb (4-0) and the tournament finale to the Cajuns (11-0). The win over the Cajuns marked Iowa’s first over a ranked opponent since it defeated No. 23 Oklahoma State last year, 5-3, on March 3. No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette is the highest-ranked team the Hawkeyes have defeated since winning at No. 1 Michigan on April, 23, 2011.

Sophomore Megan Blank was named a Primetime Performer by CollegeSoftball360 for her performance in Iowa’s opening weekend tournament — the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. Blank, who became the ninth player in school history to garner first team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman, and the ninth to earn all-region recognition as a freshman in 2012, picked up where she left off a year ago, hitting .333 in Iowa’s first weekend. She led the Hawkeyes to wins over Texas State, Houston and No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette. Blank had the game-winning two-run double in Iowa’s come-from-behind win over Texas State on Friday. Saturday, she hit two home runs in leading Iowa to wins over the Cougars and Cajuns. Against No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, Blank had a career-best five RBIs. For the weekend, she batted .333 with five hits, two home runs, a double and eight RBIs. She slugged .800 and matched her home run total from a year ago in one day’s work on Saturday.

Junior pitcher Kayla Massey and sophomore infielder Megan Blank were selected to the 2013 Big Ten Preseason All-Conference First Team by College Sports Madness.

Senior Bradi Wall, a member of the Canadian Women’s National Baseball Team, was selected as recipient of the team’s 2012 Jimmy Rattlesnake Award in November. The award is presented annually to the player who shows great performance and sportsmanship. Wall did not play prep softball, as it was not sponsored in her hometown. She played on the boys’ baseball team.

UI assistant coach Stacy May-Johnson was selected as the 2011 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year. She earned the honor after helping Team USA to gold medals at the World Cup of Softball VII and the Pan American Games. May-Johnson batted a team-best .418 with team highs in home runs (six), runs (26) and RBI (36). In 2012, May-Johnson helped the USA Softball Team to the gold medal at the 2012 World Cup of Softball presented by Lumber Liquidators. May-Johnson started 5-of-6 games for Team USA, posting a .357 (5-of-14) batting average with three runs, two RBIs and two walks. Her best game came in a 9-0 victory over Canada, where she went 2-for-2 with a run scored. The Americans posted a perfect 6-0 record during the competition, and they outscored their opponents, 41-3, in the five day event.

Former Hawkeye Chelsey Carmody is back with the Iowa softball program, serving as volunteer assistant coach. Carmody started 208 career games in the Iowa infield. A career .335 hitter, she was a team co-captain and was the recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award as a senior. She batted .320 or higher during each of her four seasons in the Black and Gold, totaling 234 career hits, 11 home runs, 87 RBI and 42 stolen bases. Carmody played for UI head coach Marla Looper in 2011 as a senior.

Iowa has made four Women’s College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history, and the four WCWS appearances equal the second most in conference history. The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships (1989, 1997, 2000, 2003) and two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003).