April 12, 2015
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MADISON, Wis. — It took three hours and 50 minutes and 10 innings to decide the game and Big Ten Conference series winner on Sunday afternoon, but the University of Iowa softball team came out on top with a 3-2 victory to secure its first conference series win, 2-1, over Wisconsin.
Hawkeye redshirt sophomore starter Shayla Starkenburg (12-17) earned the complete game win in the circle, shining in the pitcher’s duel with a career high 11 strikeouts, and senior Megan Blank delivered the game-winning hit with the 25th home run of her career.
“Shayla had a great day,” head coach Marla Looper said. “She had two walks and a couple hit by pitches, but fortunately that didn’t hurt us. She continued to stay out there and breathe.
“That’s where she has matured a lot this year, not buckling under pressure. She continued to keep the ball down and force them to make our defense play. If we can make our defense play, then we stand a chance. She did a really nice job in the circle, and Holly Hoffman did a nice job behind the plate calling the game.”
Iowa owns a 5-9 mark in conference play and a 14-31 record overall following the win, while the Badgers drop to 2-9 in conference action and 17-22 on the season. After trading zeroes with the Badgers in the first, sophomore designated hitter Alyssa Navarro knocked her first career home run out of the park to lead off the second and give the Hawkeyes a 1-0 advantage.
The lead held up until the bottom of the fourth when Wisconsin opened the frame with a triple and plated a run with a two-out single up the middle to knot the score, 1-1.
The Hawkeyes got the run back in the top of the fifth inning. Junior Holly Hoffman singled to left, sophomore Kaitlyn Mullarkey was hit by a pitch, and Navarro singled through the left side to load the bases for junior pinch hitter Whitney Repole, who delivered a sacrifice fly to put Iowa back in front of the Badgers, 2-1.
After trading zeroes in the sixth, Wisconsin started the bottom of the seventh inning with a triple to left field. Starkenburg struck out the next two batters, but a two-out infield single allowed the tying run to score. Starkenburg closed the frame with a looking strikeout to force extra innings.
Scoreless innings followed in the eighth and ninth before senior Megan Blank sent a pitch over the right field fence to break the tie. The solo home run moves Blank to fourth on Iowa’s career home run list (25).
“At the end, Megan was due for something,” Looper said. “She was trying too hard to put her team on her back at times, but she finally relaxed. I saw her going up to the box, take a breath, and I knew something was going to happen.”
Wisconsin used a single and hit by pitch to put its first two batters on base in the bottom of the 10th, but Starkenburg fired back with her 11th strikeout of the contest to slow the momentum. Hawkeye third baseman Sarah Kurtz and shortstop Blank recorded the final two outs, ending Iowa’s longest game of the 2015 season with a 3-2 result.
“I’m just proud of the girls and how they continued to fight today,” Looper said. Sophomore Claire Fritsch posted a team-high three hits, while redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman, Hoffman, and Navarro recorded two apiece. With two hits, Navarro matched her career high for the eighth time.
Iowa is back in action at Pearl Field against Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series rival Iowa State on Wednesday, April 15. The 6 p.m. (CT) contest will be shown live online on BTN Plus at btn2go.com.
|Iowa 3, Wisconsin 2||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||R||H||E|
|Iowa (14-31; 5-9)||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||13||0|
|Wisconsin (17-22; 2-9)||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||2||13||0|
|W: Starkenburg (IOWA) 12-17|
|L: Stewart (WIS) 7-12|