Iowa Tops No. 4 Michigan, 6-4

March 29, 2015

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Sophomore Kailtlyn Mullarkey used a double down the first base line to plate the game-winning run in the seventh to guide the University of Iowa softball team to a 6-4 victory over No. 4 Michigan on Sunday afternoon.

“This win feels good,” said Mullarkey. “It just shows us what we can do when we work hard and we lay it out there. It feels awesome.”

Iowa (11-26; 2-6) handed the Wolverines (31-5; 5-1) their fifth loss of the season. The victory marks Iowa’s second win over a ranked opponent this season. The Hawkeyes topped No. 17 UCF on Feb. 27, 2015.

“They scrapped it out today,” said head coach Marla Looper. “They continued to believe in their abilities and make adjustments so they could get it done at the end.”

The Wolverines reached the scoreboard early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Michigan used a two-run home run, a single and a fielder’s choice to take a 3-0 lead.

Shayla Starkenburg settled in from there. The redshirt sophomore allowed just one run in her final six innings of work and did not allow a Wolverine hit in four of her final six innings.

“I started off a little rough in the first inning,” said Starkenburg. “I had some walks there, but I knew that it was going to be important for me to let my defense work. Holly and I started to read through our notes and make adjustments on the mound so I could let the defense get the outs for me.”

The Hawkeyes reached the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning. Senior Megan Blank led off the inning with a walk, before Holly Hoffman sent her second home run of the season and fifth of her career over the center field wall. One batter later, freshman Allie Wood delivered a solo shot – the fourth home run of her career — to left to pull the Hawkeyes within a run of the Wolverines (4-3).

The Iowa defense held the Wolverines hitless in the bottom of the sixth, and the Hawkeyes continued to rally in the top of the seventh. Sophomore Claire Fritsch beat out the throw from the Michigan second basemen for an infield single to start the inning. The Wolverines then chose to stay away from Blank, throwing her four straight balls to put runners on first and second with one away. After a pitching change and a wild pitch, Michigan intentionally walked Hoffman to load the bases. Mullarkey stepped up to the plate and delivered a two-run double down the first base line to give Iowa a 5-4 lead. Wood added to the Iowa lead with an RBI grounder to the shortstop to give the Hawkeyes a 6-4 advantage heading to the bottom of the seventh.

“I had to flush those first three at bats,” said Mullarkey. “They obviously didn’t go the way I wanted to, but when you come up in that type of situation you can’t be focused on the past. I just did what I needed to do for the team.”

“She [Mullarkey] was clutch in that last at bat,” said Looper. “Unlike the other ones, she had a little bit of ice in her veins. She wanted to help the team the best she could, because she hadn’t the last few chances. She got good wood on that ball, and was fortunate to keep it fair down the line to give us two runs.”

The Wolverines led off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single, but the Hawkeyes turned a 6-4-3 double play to clear the bases. After a single up the middle, Starkenburg fanned the final batter to give Iowa the 6-4 win.

Starkenburg (9-15) was credited with the complete-game win in the circle. The Ankeny, Iowa, native allowed four earned runs on six hits. She struck out seven and walked six.

“It feels good to come from behind and hold on to it,” said Looper. “I’m proud of the girls. They continue to get back at it and plug away. They continue to fight and that’s what we have to keep doing.”

The Hawkeyes return to the field Wednesday for a midweek contest against Drake in Des Moines, Iowa. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. (CT).

Iowa 6, Michigan 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Iowa (11-26; 2-6) 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 6 8 1
No. 4 Michigan (31-5; 5-1) 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 6 0
Game Decision
W: Starkenburg (IOWA) 9-15
L: Betsa (IOWA) 14-3
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