Iowa Drops Series-Opener to Michigan State


April 18, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team fell 1-0 in series-opening action against Michigan State (11-28, 3-12) at Pearl Field Friday evening. The loss lowers the Hawkeye records to 12-24 overall and 5-10 in Big Ten play.

Just seven hits were allowed in the pitchers’ duel between Hawkeye starter Kayla Massey and Spartan starter Kelly Smith, but it was Michigan State that broke through with a two-out, one-run producing effort in the top of the sixth.

After the Hawkeyes recorded two outs in the inning, Michigan State drew a walk and stole a base to put a runner in scoring position. Stephanie Sanders delivered with a single up the middle and plated the eventual game-winning run of the contest.

Iowa left five runners on base, but only one would reach scoring position at second base. The Hawkeyes saw Claire Fritsch reach base on a hit by pitch with one out in the first before a caught stealing and a looking strikeout ended the inning. Erin Erickson and Megan Blank reached on one-out singles in the second and fourth innings, respectively, but the Michigan State defense was able to keep Iowa off the board.

The team’s best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the fifth when Whitney Repole drew a walk and Michelle Zoeller reached on an errant throw on her sacrifice bunt with one out. The Spartans responded, forcing a foul out and pop out to keep Iowa off the board.

Repole singled through the left side with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but another looking strikeout ended the inning and the game, 1-0.

Massey (7-13) took the loss in the circle. She held the Spartans to four hits and one earned run in her complete game effort. Of her four strikeouts in the contest — three were looking.

Smith (4-13) recorded her second consecutive win, as she threw her first career no-hitter against Eastern Illinois midweek. She limited the Hawkeyes to three hits and struck out eight in her complete game win.

Blank (1-for-3), Erickson (1-for-3) and Repole (1-for-2) recorded hits for the Hawkeyes.

“We had a lot of pop ups and eight strikeouts and you can’t win ball games like that plain and simple,” head coach Marla Looper said. “We didn’t make adjustments, and we let them hang around.

“We talk about those free passes and any team just needs an opportunity. They took advantage of that opportunity. Kayla did throw pretty well, but that one walk was the winning run. That one run shouldn’t have been the demise of us, but it was tonight because we couldn’t put the ball on the ground. It was nice to see Whitney battle in the last inning and put the ball on the ground to get us a base runner. It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t bounce back before that.”

The Hawkeyes take on the Spartans in game two of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. (CT). It is Awareness Day at Pearl Field and the team will be wearing colored jersey’s representing local organizations in the contest.

Michigan State 1, Iowa 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Michigan State (11-28, 3-12) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 4 1
Iowa (12-24, 5-10) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
Game Decision
W: Smith (MSU) 4-13
L: Massey (IOWA) 7-13