Hawkeyes, Badgers Set for Big Ten Showdown

March 28, 2014


The Hawkeyes travel to Madison, Wis., to play a three-game Big Ten series at Wisconsin this weekend. The series opens with a doubleheader at 12 p.m. (CT) on Saturday and concludes with a single contest at 12 p.m. (CT) on Sunday. Each game will be played at the Robert and Irwin Goodman Softball Complex.

A live audio stream is available on the softball schedule page located at hawkeyesports.com. Jon Swisher (play-by-play) and Jil Price (color) will call the action. A video stream is also available at uwbadgers.com.

Live stats (Gametracker) is available for each game of the series at Wisconsin. The “GT” link can be accessed under the “Calendar” tab on the front page of hawkeyesports.com or on the softball schedule page. For in-game updates, follow @IowaSoftball on Twitter and “like” Iowa Hawkeyes Softball on Facebook.

? Iowa leads Wisconsin, 30-13, in all-time meetings.
? The Badgers won two out of three games last season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes took game one, 2-1, in nine innings before falling in the next two, 8-0 (five innings) and 3-0.
? Five of the last 12 games played between Iowa and Wisconsin have not been seven-inning contests. Three ended in run rule fashion in five innings and two games went on for nine innings. The Hawkeyes came out on top in four of the five games.

In non-conference action, Iowa has a .238 batting average, .340 slugging percentage and a .312 on-base percentage. In its Big Ten opening series at Illinois last weekend, the Iowa offense rose to the occasion. The squad posted a .284 average, a .455 slugging percentage and a .333 on-base percentage in the three game stretch. Four starters hit at a clip of .400 or higher, including Megan Blank (.500), Holly Hoffman (.500), Kayla Massey (.400) and Whitney Repole (.400).

The UI started its Big Ten slate right, defeating Illinois in two-of-three contests to win the series last weekend. The Hawkeyes won the first game, 4-3 in nine innings, and the second game, 10-7, before falling in the series finale, 4-3 after eight innings. Megan Blank and Holly Hoffman each hit .500 (5-for-10) to lead the offense. Kayla Massey hit .400 and slugged 1.100, as she ripped two home runs and a double on the weekend. Also adding a long ball and hitting .400 in the series was Whitney Repole. Blank and Massey each drove in a team-most four RBIs. Shayla Starkenburg and Massey both collected complete game wins in the circle.

Big Ten foe Wisconsin brings a 15-12 overall record and a conference mark of 1-2 into the weekend series. The roster is comprised of six freshmen, seven sophomores, three juniors and four seniors. Fourth-year head coach Yvette Healy leads the team, and she is assisted by Randy Schneider and Tracie Adix. Three Badgers own a batting average above .300 including Mary Massei (.393), Michelle Mueller (.392) and Maria Van Abel (.349). Pitcher Cassandra Darrah leads the team in ERA (2.64), wins (10), innings pitched (100.2), starts (16), complete games (13) and shutouts (3).

The Hawkeyes hit three home runs in the series against Illinois, one in each contest. Kayla Massey hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to force extra innings in game one of the series, and added her second long ball in as many games with a solo shot in game two. Whitney Repole knocked her first ball out of the park of the season — and the second of her career — in game three. The Hawkeyes have a total of seven home runs on the year.

Junior Megan Blank owned the top spot with an Iowa career batting average (.413) prior to the start of the season. She is currently tied for 11th in career doubles (36). Blank is one triple from entering Iowa’s career list with a total of nine and is 6 RBIs from entering the rankings with 95 in her career. Senior Kayla Massey is also ranked in several career categories. She is seventh in complete games (73), ninth in games pitched (115) and wins (47), and 10th in strikeouts (367).

? Iowa is tied for fourth in the Big Ten standings, heading into the second weekend of conference action with a 2-1 mark.
? Senior pitcher Kayla Massey is eighth in innings pitched (78.1) and games started (12), and 10th in ERA (2.77).
? Redshirt freshman pitcher Shayla Starkenburg ranks third in home runs allowed (2), fifth in hits allowed (37), seventh in saves (1) and runs allowed (27), and 11th in walks allowed (20).
? Sophomore pitcher Micaela Whitney leads the league in hits allowed (26), doubles allowed (4), and triples allowed (0). She is also second in runs allowed (19) and earned runs allowed (14), fourth in walks allowed (17), seventh in saves (1), and 10th in home runs allowed (4).
? Freshman first baseman Alyssa Navarro ranks second in fielding double plays (11), fifth in chances (183), sixth in putouts (168).
? Freshman second baseman Claire Fritsch is fifth in fielding double plays (8) and seventh in assists (62).
? Sophomore catcher Holly Hoffman is second in runners caught stealing (9) and ninth in stolen bases against (15).
? Junior shortstop Megan Blank is tied for fourth in triples (2) and ranks eighth in fielding double plays (7).
? Sophomore outfielder Sammi Gyerman is tied for fourth in triples (2).

? As a team, Iowa ranks third in double plays per game (0.67), 31st in triples per game (0.29), and 90th in doubles per game (1.29).
? Junior Megan Blank ranks 73rd in triples (2) and 78th in triples per game (0.10).
? Senior Kayla Massey ranks 96th in shutouts (2).
? Sophomore Whitney Repole is 106th in hit by pitch per game (0.20).
? Senior Michelle Zoeller is 116th in doubles per game (0.29).

Catcher Holly Hoffman has consistently been erasing base runners for the Hawkeyes this season. The redshirt sophomore has thrown out 9-of-24 runners attempting to steal a base (38 percent). Her nine runners caught stealing is second in the Big Ten. The highest caught stealing total is 11, held by Nebraska’s Taylor Edwards. Hoffman needs to catch just four additional runners stealing to match her 2013 season total of 12.

UI softball has turned 14 double plays in 21 games. The Hawkeyes lead the conference in double plays per game and ranks 3rd nationally in double plays per game (0.67) according to the most recent release of NCAA statistics. Every player in the infield, including a pitcher, has taken part in at least one double play this season. First baseman Alyssa Navarro has been a part of a team-most 11 double plays, followed by second baseman Claire Fritsch who has taken part in eight. Shortstop Megan Blank (7), third baseman Michelle Zoeller (2), pitcher Kayla Massey (2) and catcher Holly Hoffman (1) have also played a part in at least one double play this season. Adding the lone double play for the Iowa outfield is right fielder Brianna Luna.

Fourth-year head coach Marla Looper has a career coaching record of 91-88 (.508). She is just nine 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. The team’s 30 wins last season was the highest win total since 2009 when the Hawkeyes posted a 42-19 mark.

Two of Iowa’s 14 losses 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. 19/18 Nebraska and No. 23/RV Northwestern three times and No. 16/19 Missouri and No. 15/15 Minnesota twice in the remainder of the 2014 season.

UI softball posted an 8-15 record in Big Ten play and tied for ninth place a season ago. The Hawkeyes topped Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Penn State once; defeated Northwestern twice; and swept Purdue. Minnesota and Michigan took three games from Iowa, while Illinois, Penn State and Nebraska posted two wins over the Hawkeyes. Ohio State bounced Iowa from the Big Ten Tournament in game one, 8-4.

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.

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 one-of-seven student-athletes from the Big Ten and one-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).

Iowa returns to Pearl Field in Iowa City for its 2014 home opener against Drake on April 2. The first 250 fans will receive a FREE Iowa softball t-shirt. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. (CT).

The Hawkeyes continue its home stretch with a series against Northwestern, April 4-6. On Friday, the first 250 fans will receive FREE Iowa softball trading cards and all fans can register to win an autographed softball. It is also Dollar Dog Night.

Saturday is hat day at the field and fans are encouraged to wear their favorite baseball or softball hat to the contest. The first 100 fans will receive a complimentary Iowa softball hat. One lucky hat wearer will be a prize winner and kids can run the bases following the completion of the game.

Sunday is Little League Day, where all area Little League teams are invited for a FREE clinic with the Iowa Softball team following the game (email ashlee-seibert@uiowa.edu or call 319-335-9431 to register). Free pizza and t-shirts will be provided to clinic attendees. The first 100 fans will receive an Iowa softball seam bracelet, and the Hawkeyes will sign autographs following the game.

University of Iowa softball season tickets are on sale now. Reserve season tickets are available for $20 and general admission season tickets are available for $15. All season ticket holders will receive a free Iowa softball seat cushion. Individuals 18 years and younger receive free general admission seating. Season tickets can be purchased online at hawkeyesports.com, by phone at 1-800-IA-HAWKS or in person at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Fans can also purchase single game tickets for $5 on game day at Pearl Field in Iowa City.

Iowa will appear once on the Big Ten Network this season against Minnesota in Iowa City. The double header, originally scheduled for April 9, will now be played on April 8 to coincide with the network schedule. The broadcast will begin with game one at 3 p.m. (CT). BTN will also cover Big Ten Tournament action in Evanston, Ill., May 9-10.