Iowa Heads to Arizona for Wildcat Invitational

Feb. 27, 2014


UI softball travels to Tucson, Ariz., to play in the Wildcat Invitational this weekend, Feb. 28-March 2. The Hawkeyes face Valparaiso on Friday, No. 9/10 Arizona and UT Arlington on Saturday, and Longwood on Sunday. The three-game tournament is hosted by eight-time national champion, Arizona.

Fans can follow along with each game of the weekend for free through live stats or a live video stream. Links to both are available on the softball schedule page of For in-game updates and game delay information, follow @IowaSoftball on Twitter and “like” the official Facebook page,

? Iowa and Valparaiso will meet for the first time in school history on Friday.
? Iowa trails Arizona, 5-0, in the all-time series. The teams last met on March 16, 2012. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 6-1.
? Iowa leads UT Arlington, 3-2, in the all-time series. The Hawkeyes have won the last three contests played against the Mavericks, including a double header sweep on Feb. 24, 1990 (3-2 and 3-0) and a 1-0 win on Feb. 11, 2012.
? Iowa leads Longwood, 1-0, in the all-time series. The Hawkeyes topped the Lancers, 6-0, in the lone meeting of the teams on March 6, 2009.

? Claire Fritsch has a team-high .360 (9-for-25) batting average, .414 on-base-percentage, and three stolen bases.
? Erin Erickson leads the team with a .528 slugging percentage, two home runs, and six runs scored.
? Michelle Zoeller has a team-most 12 hits and five doubles.
? Erickson and Sammi Gyerman each have four RBI to lead the Hawkeyes.
? Kayla Massey leads Iowa in ERA (2.65), appearances (7), starts (7), complete games (5), inning pitched (39.2), and strikeouts (20).
? Shayla Starkenburg leads the way with a .167 opponent batting average and one save.
? Massey, Starkenburg, and Michaela Whitney each have one win in the circle for Iowa this year.

Catcher Holly Hoffman has consistently been erasing base runners for the Hawkeyes this season. She has thrown out 7-of-15 runners attempting to steal a base on her for a 47 percent success rate. Her seven runners caught stealing leads the Big Ten, as the second-highest caught stealing total is five, held by Nebraska’s Taylor Edwards. Hoffman needs to catch just five additional runners stealing to match her season total of 12 from 2013.

Each Hawkeye starting pitcher has tallied a win in the 2014 season. Redshirt freshman Shayla Starkenburg notched her first win in the season-opener against UNC Greensboro on Feb. 7. She gave up one hit in the 5-0 shutout and held the Spartans hitless until the sixth. Sophomore Micaela Whitney picked up her first win on Feb. 8 against Presbyterian, 6-3. She struck out four in her 6.2 innings of work. Senior Kayla Massey earned her first win against Drake, 9-0, on Feb. 16. She struck out three and held the Bulldogs to five hits in her six innings.

? Michelle Zoeller ranks third in doubles (5).
? Sammi Gyerman is second in triples (2).
? Kayla Massey is second in games started (7), eighth in innings pitched (39.2), 10th in earned run average (2.65).
? Shayla Starkenburg leads the conference in saves (1) and triples allowed (0), is second in doubles allowed (1), third in games finished (4) and hits allowed (8), fourth in games in relief (4), fifth in earned runs allowed (7), sixth in home runs allowed (1), and seventh in opposing batting average (.167) and runs allowed (11).
? Claire Fritsch is fifth in assists (33) and fielding double plays (4).
? Alyssa Navarro is third in chances (106) and putouts (100), and fifth in fielding double plays (4).
? Holly Hoffman leads the conference in runners caught stealing (7).

Two of Iowa’s nine losses this season have come at the hands of ranked foes: No. 14/18 Missouri on Feb. 14 (2-1 in eight innings) and No. 14/16 Baylor on Feb. 15 (2-0). The Hawkeyes have also been defeated by teams receiving votes in at least one of the national polls on six occasions this year: Lipscomb on Feb. 14 (10-0 in five innings), UAB on Feb. 15 (6-1 in nine innings), and Mississippi State on Feb. 21 (2-0), Feb. 22 (5-0), and Feb. 23 (9-1 in five innings). Iowa is scheduled to play No. 9/10 Arizona once, No. 15/16 Nebraska three times, and No. 17/19 Missouri and No. 19/20 Minnesota twice in the remainder of the season. The Hawkeyes also match up against Northwestern and Texas three times, both are receiving votes in the polls.

Fourth-year head coach Marla Looper has a career coaching record of 87-83 (.512). She is just 13 wins from achieving her 100th win as a head coach. Looper recorded 27 wins in 2011, 27 wins in 2012, and added 30 wins in 2013. Her 30 wins last season was the highest win total since 2009 when the Hawkeyes posted a 42-19 mark.

Horizon League member Valparaiso brings a 2-7 record into the Wildcat Invitational. The team is led by fourth-year head coach Jordan Stevens and assistant coaches Joylyn Ichiyama and Alex Lagesse. The roster is comprised of three freshmen, six sophomores, two juniors, and six seniors. The Crusaders have two with an average above .300, including Amanda Wisniewski (.409) and Kaitlyn Ranieri (.355). Molli Lindeman (1-1) and Taylor Weissenhofer (1-1) each have a win in the circle, while Sierra Pico (0-4) leads the team with a 2.39 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS Pac-12 member Arizona brings a 15-1 record and a No. 9/10 national ranking into the Wildcat Invitational. The team is led by 29th-year head coach Mike Candrea and assistant coaches Alicia Hollowell and Stacy Iveson. Four freshman, eight sophomores, five juniors, and five seniors make up the Wildcat roster. Nine regulars in the lineup are hitting above .300, including Alex Lavine (.485), Kellie Fox (.474), Courtney Rodriguez (.457), Kelsey Rodriguez (.424), Chelsea Suitos (.412), Katiyana Mauga (.409), Mo Mercado (.357), Hallie Wilson (.317), and Chelsea Goodacre (.317). Nancy Bowling (4-0), Shelby Babcock (4-0), and Kenzie Fowler (2-0) are undefeated in the circle.

Sun Belt member UT Arlington bring an overall record of 9-5 into the Wildcat Invitational. The Maverick roster consists of six freshmen, eight sophomores, two juniors, and one senior. The team is led by second-year head coach Kristie Fox and her assistants Andy Jarvis and Meagan Denny-White. Four Mavericks are hitting .300 or above so far this season, including Britnea Barilli (.364), Rebecca Stokes (.342), Meagan Michele (.341), and Jolene Schaefer (.316). Callie Collins (4-3) leads the team with a 3.24 ERA in 41.2 innings, followed by Shannon Carrico (4-1) with a 3.83 ERA in 47 innings pitched.

Big South member Longwood is 3-1 on the season heading into the Wildcat Invitational. The Lancers are led by 17th-year head coach Kathy Riley and assistant coach Jennifer Steele. The roster is comprised of four freshmen, four sophomores, five juniors, and one senior. Five Lancers own a batting average above .300, including Emily Murphy (.800), Chelsea Sciacca (.429), Katie Shinrock (.364), Jamie Barbour (.333), and Carly Adams (.308). Jenna Carnes (1-0), Libby Morris (1-0), and Elizabeth McCarthy (1-1) all possess a win in the circle so far this season.

College Sports Madness recognized Iowa softball on several occasions in the preseason. The Hawkeyes were named the No. 40 team in the country by the site on Jan. 9. College Sports Madness also recognized shortstop Megan Blank as a preseason first team All-Big Ten and preseason second team All-American in February.

Redshirt freshman Shayla Starkenburg made a successful Hawkeye debut at the Carolina Classic. The right-handed pitcher collected the first start, win, shutout, and one-hitter of her Hawkeye career in Iowa’s first game of 2014 against UNC Greensboro on Feb. 7. Her no-hit bid held until midway through the sixth, when UNCG recorded a single. She recorded five strikeouts in her seven innings pitched. Starkenburg made her second appearance of the season in relief against Presbyterian. She entered the contest in a bases loaded situation with two outs and an Iowa lead to protect. With the game on the line, Starkenburg ended the threat, forcing a ground out to end the game in Iowa’s favor 6-3 and record her first career save. Starkenburg made her third and final appearance against Ohio in relief. She held the Bobcats hitless and scoreless. On the weekend, Starkenburg posted 1-0 record, 0.00 ERA, and five strikeouts. She gave up just one hit, holding her opponents to a .043 batting average.

Hawkeye infielder Claire Fritsch was named to the Getterman Classic all-tournament team after leading all hitters with a .538 batting average (7-of-13). Of her seven total hits, two were doubles — the first of her Iowa career. She also added an RBI, stolen base, sacrifice bunt and a run scored. The freshman grew up in Round Rock, Texas, just an hour and a half from Waco, and her parents were in the stands to see her excel on the field in an Iowa uniform.

Hawkeye junior Megan Blank appeared on the Top 50 Watch List for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year released on Jan. 29, 2014. The shortstop — making the list for the first time in her career — is 1-of-7 student-athletes from the Big Ten and 1-of-20 juniors included in the Top 50. The list is narrowed to the top 25 on April 9, the top 10 on May 7, and the top 3 on May 21. The 2014 Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be announced prior to the start of the Women’s College World Series on May 27. The award, given by the National Governing Body for softball in the United States, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.

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).

The Hawkeyes play a three-game series at Texas, March 15-17, and continue their road trip with a single game at Texas State on March 19. Iowa is scheduled to open its Big Ten slate afterwards, beginning with a three-game series at Illinois, March 21-23.