2014 Season in Review

June 5, 2014


Junior Megan Blank received her third-straight First Team All-Big Ten accolade and was also named to the conference’s All-Defensive Team, as announced by the league office. The shortstop is the eighth Iowa player to earn first team distinction three times.

Blank led the Hawkeyes in batting average (.361), slugging percentage (.602), on-base percentage (.452), hits (48), doubles (11), triples (3) and RBIs (25) this season. In Big Ten action, Blank hit at a .415 clip, slugged .677 and compiled an on-base percentage of .506. Seven of her 11 doubles, two of her three triples, two of her five home runs and 15 of her 25 RBIs came against conference foes.

Following her junior season, Blank ranks in several career categories. She is second with a .398 batting average, sixth with 43 doubles, eighth with 18 home runs, ninth with 113 RBIs and 10th with 10 triples with one season remaining with the Hawkeyes. Blank led the team with 13 multiple-hit games and six multiple-RBI games, has the longest reached base streak (14) and owns the longest hitting streak (9). She ended the season with a seven-game reached base streak.

Shortstop Megan Blank collected her third-straight NFCA honor as she was a second team All-Midwest Region pick in 2014. The junior was named to the NFCA All-Midwest Region second team as a freshman and first team as a sophomore. She is the 16th player in Iowa history to earn three regional awards in her career.

Senior outfielder and leadoff hitter Brianna Luna received the team’s Sportsmanship Award as announced by the Big Ten. Student-athletes chosen to receive the honor are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. These student-athletes must also be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.

Hawkeye junior Megan Blank appeared in the Top 50 Watch List for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year released on Jan. 29, 2014. The shortstop — who made 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 was narrowed to the Top 25 on April 9, but Blank did not make the cut. 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.

Three Hawkeyes — sophomore Haley Hansel, sophomore Whitney Repole and senior Michelle Zoeller — earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition for their efforts in the classroom. It is Zoeller’s third time earning the award, while Hansel and Repole were honored for the first time. To be eligible, student-athletes must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.

Senior Kayla Massey earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time in her career on March 31 after throwing two complete game wins at Wisconsin last weekend. In game one, Massey limited the Badgers to one run and struck out six. She also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run and an RBI to help her cause.

The Foothill Ranch, Calif., native matched her season-high with seven strikeouts in game three of the series and held the Wisconsin offense to one run. Massey went 1-for-4 at the plate in the contest.

On the weekend, Massey posted a 2-0 record, 1.00 earned run average and 13 strikeouts. She limited Wisconsin, a team that averages 4.1 runs per game, to one run in each of her games pitched. Massey also compiled a .364 batting average, .636 slugging percentage and .417 on-base percentage at the plate for the Hawkeyes.

Senior Kayla Massey ends her Hawkeye career ranked in several career statistical categories. She occupies fourth in complete games (89), sixth in innings pitched (745.1), eighth in games pitched (133), ninth in wins (54) and strikeouts (457) and 15th in home runs (15). With one season remaining her collegiate career, junior Megan Blank ranks second in career batting average (.398), sixth in doubles (43), eighth in home runs (18), ninth in RBIs (113) and 10th in triples (10).

With her team trailing by one run in the bottom of the seventh and one out remaining, sophomore Erin Erickson delivered a two-run, walkoff home run over the left field wall. The long ball gave the University of Iowa softball team a 3-2 win over Ohio State on Senior Day and secured head coach Marla Looper’s 100th career win. It was Erickson’s first career walkoff hit and her fourth home run of the season.

Fourth-year head coach Marla Looper, her staff of Adrianna Baggetta, Stacy-May Johnson and Chelsey Carmody, and the 2014 senior class of Brianna Luna, Kayla Massey and Michelle Zoeller collected their 100th career win, 3-2, in the regular season finale at Pearl Field against Ohio State.

Iowa 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. UI softball added 16 wins — nine in conference action and three over ranked foes — in 2014 bringing Looper’s career record to 100-104-1 (.490) as the Iowa skipper.

Hawkeye softball added a video scoreboard to their game day atmosphere for the 2014 season. The board, which is approximately 16-feet tall and 28-feet wide, was a repurposed video wall from football’s Kinnick Stadium. A border of Iowa softball accolades surrounds the video scoreboard and completes the new look. The video scoreboard made its debut at the 2014 home opener against Drake on April 2, 2014. Since then, it has been used to show in game highlights, introductory videos, graphics, advertisements and additional content.

? UI softball ended the season ranked 16th in double plays per game (0.47) and 46th in triples per game (0.23).
? Alyssa Navarro ranks 56th nationally in sacrifice hits per game (0.21).
? Claire Fritsch ranks 80th nationally in sacrifice hits per game (0.20).

The Hawkeye offense has hit 10 of its 23 total home runs in the last nine games of the 2014 season. Iowa knocked a season-high four balls out of the park on April 23 at Iowa State, hit a solo home run in game one at Indiana on April 25, ripped two home runs in game three at Indiana on April 27, added two more long balls against Northern Iowa on April 30 and hit a walkoff home run to secure a 3-2 win over Ohio State in the regular season finale on May 4. Megan Blank has hit four of the nine home runs in the stretch, followed by Brianna Luna and Erin Erickson who have each hit two out. Kayla Massey and Whitney Repole each contributed one home run in the last nine games.

Facing a nine-run deficit with a run rule loss looming, University of Iowa softball rallied for eight runs in the sixth before ultimately falling to Northern Iowa, 9-8, on April 30. Megan Blank hit two home runs in the bottom of the sixth to fuel the Hawkeye scoring drive. Her two home runs match her career-high game total, set at Michigan on April 21, 2014.

Blank started the scoring drive with a leadoff home run to right. Holly Hoffman kept it going with a single and was replaced by Kara Misel on the basepaths. After a Whitney Repole walk and a wild pitch, an error plated the second run of the inning. With two teammates on base, Claire Fritsch delivered her third triple of the season to clear the bases and bring Iowa within five, 9-4.

The Panthers elected to make a pitching change, but the hits kept coming for the Hawkeyes. Consecutive pinch hitters Alyssa Navarro and Michaela Johnson reached on a single and a walk, respectively. Brianna Luna delivered a single through the left side to plate an Iowa run, but the second out was made at third on the play. The hit extended Luna’s hitting streak and reached base streak to six games. Blank added the final two runs with her second home run of the inning to right field.

The Hawkeye offense knocked a season-high four home runs out of the park in their annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game at Iowa State in just five innings of action. The game, which ended in an unconventional 6-6 tie, was stopped due to excessive rain, resumed and ultimately called early due to darkness.

Kayla Massey started it off with a two-run home run to left in the top of the second inning, and Whitney Repole opened the top of the third with a solo shot to right center in with a full count for the team’s second home run of the game. Iowa added two more in the top of the fourth when Brianna Luna and Megan Blank launched a solo shot and a two-run home run, respectively.

Iowa’s previous season-best was two home runs, a feat the team accomplished against Missouri at Pearl Field on April 16, 2014. The school record for home runs in a game is seven, which was set against Auburn in 2005.

UI softball posted a 9-14 record in Big Ten play and finished eighth this season. The Hawkeyes began their conference slate with consecutive series wins over Illinois and Wisconsin. Iowa topped the Illini in games one and two (4-3 after nine innings and 10-7) before falling in the finale contest 4-3 after eight innings. The squad recorded game one and three wins over the Badgers by a score of 4-1, but dropped game two, 8-4. Iowa also won the series at Indiana, defeating the Hoosiers 1-0 in game one and 3-2 in game three. Indiana avoided the sweep with a 9-1, five inning win in the second contest of the series. The Hawkeyes also posted a win over No. 23 Northwestern (4-3), Michigan State (5-1) and Ohio State (3-2).

A WEDNESDAY TO REMEMBER The Hawkeyes topped No. 13/15 Missouri twice in front of their home crowd at Pearl Field on Wednesday, April 16. Iowa used a three-run second inning to pull ahead of the Tigers, 3-1, and were able to hold Missouri scoreless in the remainder of the game to collect its second win over a ranked team this season. Kayla Massey recorded the complete game win in the circle. She held the Tiger offense to four hits and one run. Brianna Luna drove in two runs, while Whitney Repole plated one.

Iowa battled back-and-forth with Missouri in game two and came out on top with a 13-9 final victory. The Hawkeyes used season-highs in runs scored (13), RBIs (13), home runs (2) and doubles (6) to earn the sweep and their third win over a ranked program of the season. Kaitlyn Mullarkey was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a double and her first career home run. She drove in the first runs of her career, collecting four RBIs. Whitney Repole went 2-for-3 with a home run and a double. She drove in three runs. Eight of nine Hawkeye starters recorded a hit in the win. Micaela Whitney recorded the win in the circle. She threw the final 2.1 innings in relief and limited the Tigers to one hit and one earned run.

Senior Brianna Luna, freshman Claire Fritsch and junior Megan Blank led the Hawkeyes with strong offensive performances in their home opener against Drake. Luna matched her career-high with three hits (3-for-4). Fritsch posted a career-high three hits (3-for-4) and matched career-highs with two runs scored, one double, one RBI and one stolen base. Blank drove in a team high two runs with a single through the right side. She was 1-for-2 in the contest with a walk.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Hawkeyes scored on a walk off wild pitch to secure a 4-3 win over No. 23 Northwestern. Brianna Luna led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to right center. After a Northwestern pitching change, Luna moved to third on a Fritsch sacrifice bunt. The Wildcats elected to intentionally walk Megan Blank to get to Kayla Massey who was hit by a pitch in her at bat to load the bases.

With Holly Hoffman at the plate and one out on the board, a Bond wild pitch got by the catcher, allowing Luna to slide in, score the game-winning run and give the Hawkeyes their 10th win of the season and first victory over a ranked opponent.

Massey earned her sixth complete game win in the circle and struck out six Wildcats. Four Hawkeyes recorded a hit in the ball game including Luna (1-for-3), Fritsch (1-for-3), Erickson (1-for-3) and Navarro (1-for-2). Fritsch drove in two runs, while Navarro plated one.

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.

Nine of Iowa’s 30 losses have come at the hands of ranked foes: No. 14/18 Missouri on Feb. 14 (2-1 in eight innings), No. 14/16 Baylor on Feb. 15 (2-0), No. 23/RV Northwestern on April 5 (6-4 and 4-1), No. 14 Minnesota on April 8 (2-0 and 7-0) and No. 19/22 Nebraska on April 11-12 (5-2, 9-1 in six innings and 18-0 in five innings). UI recorded its first win over a ranked opponent on April 6 against No. 23/RV Northwestern, 4-3, in walk off fashion, and added a pair of wins over No. 13/15-ranked Missouri, 3-1 and 13-9, on April 16. Each of Iowa’s wins over ranked opponents have come at Pearl Field in Iowa City.

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).

Senior third baseman Michelle Zoeller fueled Iowa’s 6-5 comeback win over the Longhorns on Sunday, March 16. She went 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored. Zoeller started the second inning with her first triple of the season and the fourth of her career. She slid in safely at home on a squeeze play to give the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the seventh inning, trailing Texas 5-2, and faced with a bases loaded situation, Zoeller hit the first grand slam of her career to give Iowa a 6-5 advantage. The slam proved to be the game-winner as the Iowa defense held Texas scoreless in the bottom of the inning to solidify its 6-5 victory.

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.

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.

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).