Iowa Drops Twinbill to No. 14 Minnesota


April 8, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team was shut out twice by No. 14 Minnesota in Tuesday’s doubleheader at Pearl Field. The Golden Gophers recorded a 2-0 win in game one and a 7-0 victory in game two to sweep the Big Ten series.

Iowa drops to 10-20 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten action after the doubleheader, while Minnesota improves to 30-5 overall and 8-2 in conference play.

A Tyler Walker double and stolen base gave Minnesota a runner in scoring position with no outs in the top of the first inning. After a walk put runners on the corners, the Gophers pushed a run across on a fielder’s choice. Second baseman Claire Fritsch elected to make a play at home, but Walker slid in safely before catcher Holly Hoffman could apply the tag.

For the next five innings, it was a pitcher’s duel between Hawkeye starter Kayla Massey and Gopher starter Sara Moulton. Neither team was able to reach the scoring column in the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth innings. The Hawkeyes and Gophers stranded eight and five runners on base, respectively, in the stretch.

Iowa put its first runner in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth when Megan Blank reached on an error to open the inning and moved to second on a Massey groundout, but Minnesota forced a groundout and gloved a line drive to end the scoring threat.

In the bottom of the sixth, Iowa had bases loaded with two away. Blank recorded a one-out single and moved to second base when Massey reached on an error. After the Gophers got the lead runner at third base on a fielder’s choice, Michelle Zoeller was hit by a pitch to put three on base with two away. Moulton collected a looking strikeout to hold the Hawkeyes off the board.

The Gophers added an insurance run on a Walker solo home run in the top of the seventh to extend their lead. Luna singled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but a groundout ended the contest and gave Minnesota the 2-0 shutout win.

Blank and Luna collected the only hits for the Hawkeyes going 2-for-3 and 2-for-4 at the plate, respectively.

Massey (6-11) was tagged with the loss in the circle. She held the Gopher offense to four hits and two earned runs, struck out six and walked four in her complete game effort. Moulton (19-4) recorded the win. She allowed four Hawkeye hits and struck out six in her seven innings pitched.

“(Sara Moulton) does a nice job, everyone knows that coming in,” head coach Marla Looper said. “We have to figure out how to limit her ability to strike us out. We swung at her pitch a lot. We didn’t execute bunts when we needed to and those little things kill you. The little things have plagued us. The majority of them are controllable.”

#14 Minnesota 2, Iowa 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Minnesota (29-5, 7-2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 4 3
Iowa (10-19, 5-5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
Game Decision
W: Moulton (MINN) 19-4
L: Massey (IOWA) 6-11

Iowa and Minnesota both put runners on base in the first and second innings of game two, but neither could reach the scoring column early.

Kayla Massey started the bottom of the second with a single through the left side and was replaced on the basepaths by pinch runner Haley Hansel. Holly Hoffman laid down a sacrifice bunt but was able to reach on a fielder’s choice, as Minnesota tried to get the lead out at second base. After a strikeout, Alysssa Navarro used a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up to second and third with two away. However, Gopher starting pitcher Sara Groenewegen struck out the next Hawkeye to keep Iowa from scoring a run.

In the top of the third, Minnesota used a two-out rally to break the scoreless tie. Kaitlyn Richardson doubled to right center and came around to score on a Groenewegen single.

Minnesota loaded the bases in the top of the fourth on a walk, single and hit by pitch with two away, but Iowa starter Shayla Starkenburg forced a grounder to end the inning. Zoeller fielded it and recorded the fielder’s choice out at third base.

Massey and Zoeller drew walks in the bottom of the fourth to put two on base for Iowa with two outs, but a Groenewegen strikeout halted the Hawkeye offensive threat.

A walk, single and wild pitch put runners at second and third for Minnesota in the top of the fifth inning with no outs but a Starkenburg strikeout, foul out to Zoeller at third and ground out to Starkenburg kept the Gophers from adding runs.

Minnesota’s offense broke through in the top of the sixth, scoring six runs on four hits and three Iowa miscues to stretch its advantage to 7-0. All six runs scored in the inning were unearned.

Iowa recorded two additional hits in the game — a Claire Fritsch single and Massey double in the bottom of the sixth — but could not push runs across, ending the game 7-0 in favor of Minnesota.

Massey was a perfect 2-for-2 to lead the Hawkeyes. Fritsch also added a hit, going 1-for-3 at the plate.

Starkenburg (3-6) received the loss in the circle. Of her seven runs allowed, one was earned. She struck out four in her seven innings pitched. Groenewegen (9-0) recorded the win and remains undefeated in her freshman campaign. She struck out 12 in her seven innings of work.

“We had opportunities early,” head coach Marla Looper said. “We had great opportunities to get on the board before they did. Again, we didn’t execute and didn’t do what we needed to. That’s pretty frustrating because it’s a different ball game if we play ahead instead of from behind. Putting pressure on them would have been nice, but we didn’t execute when we needed to.

“If we’re going to find a bright spot from today, I really liked how Shayla and Kayla both threw tonight. I don’t think the score in the second game depicted how Shayla threw. She had a lot of free passes, but she continued to bear down, stay gritty and get us out of some key innings. Kayla did a nice job and could have gotten a win in the first game. I’m excited to see them moving in that direction.”

The Hawkeyes head to Lincoln, Neb., for a series with the Cornhuskers this weekend, April 11-13. Game one begins at 4 p.m. (CT) on Friday.

#14 Minnesota 7, Iowa 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Minnesota (30-5, 8-2) 0 0 1 0 0 6 0 7 9 0
Iowa (10-20, 5-6) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
Game Decision
W: Groenewegen (MINN) 9-0
L: Starkenburg (IOWA) 3-6