April 5, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team fell to Illinois, 12-7, Sunday afternoon at Pearl Field. The Hawkeyes left 12 runners on base in the series-deciding loss, dropping their record to 12-30 overall and 3-8 in Big Ten Conference play.
The Illini — who used four home runs to fuel their victory — improve to 13-21 on the season and 5-4 in conference action following their 2-1 series win.
“We had bases loaded twice and had players battle, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the result,” fifth-year head coach Marla Looper said. “We’ve got to be better in the circle, and that’s what it came down to in this series.”
After trading zeroes with the Illini in the first, the Hawkeyes batted around to take a commanding lead 6-0. Freshman Cheyenne Pratt got the scoring started, scoring freshman Sarah Kurtz and junior Erin Erickson, who drew consecutive walks to open the frame, with her fourth career double. After redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman reached on a hit by pitch, senior Megan Blank cleared the bases with a two-RBI triple. She is now tied for fourth all-time in Hawkeye history with 12 in her career.
Illinois answered with a rally in the top of the third to jump ahead, 6-5. Carly Thomas delivered the go-ahead runs with a grand slam over the center field fence, after Illinois plated a runs on a bases loaded walk and a bloop single.
The Illini added its seventh run in the top of the fourth with a pair of doubles to stretch its lead to two runs, 7-6.
Iowa got a run back in the bottom half of the inning when Blank touched home on a wild pitch in a bases loaded scenario. Three free passes — walks by Blank and junior Whitney Repole and hit by pitch by sophomore Kaitlyn Mullarkey — gave the Hawkeyes the scoring opportunity.
Illinois scored in its third straight inning, adding a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, to extend its lead to 9-6. After a one-out base hit, Annie Fleming sent a pitch over the fence in center.
After a scoreless sixth, Illinois used three more long balls to bring the score to 12-6 heading to the seventh.
Blank kept the contest going with a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. It’s her sixth long ball of the season and the 24th of her career, which ties her for fourth all-time at Iowa. Redshirt junior Holly Hoffman kept the game going with a single before Illinois could secure the, 12-7, win with a strikeout.
Blank led the Hawkeyes at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance, three RBIs, and three runs scored. Hoffman (2-for-4) and Mullarkey (2-for-3) also had multiple hit efforts, while Pratt posted her second multiple RBI game, tying her career-high with two runs driven in.
The Hawkeyes continue Big Ten play with a three-game series at Wisconsin on April 10-12.
|Illinois 12, Iowa 7||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Illinois (14-21, 5-4)||0||0||6||1||2||0||3||12||11||1|
|Iowa (12-30, 3-8)||0||5||0||1||0||0||1||7||9||0|
|W: Vecvanags (IL) 8-8|
|L: Starkenburg (IOWA) 10-17|