May 1, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Starting pitchers Shayla Starkenburg and Kristen Wood battled through a seven inning pitchers’ duel allowing nine combined hits. One pitch was the difference-maker for Northwestern, as Julia Kuhn led off the fourth with a solo home run to left center.
The long ball proved to be the game-winner after the Wildcats (26-19, 13-7) held off the Hawkeye offense to record the 1-0 win in game one of the three game Big Ten series. With the loss, Iowa falls to 16-38 overall and 7-14 in conference play.
The Hawkeyes, who outhit the Wildcats in the contest 5-4, had their scoring opportunities, but came up empty in key situations. Iowa left a total of 10 runners on base, five of which were in scoring position.
“It was a fun game,” head coach Marla Looper said. “It wasn’t sloppy. It’s unfortunate that we left so many runners on base with the better part of our lineup at the plate. The only thing that hurt us was the home run ball. Any other time they tried to manufacture something we were able to shut them down.”
Leadoff batter Claire Fritsch was the highlight of the Hawkeye order as she reached in each of her four at bats. The sophomore second baseman walked in the first and advanced to second on a single in the first inning, doubled with one away in the third, walked and reached scoring position in the fifth, and was hit by a pitch to reach with two away in the bottom of the seventh.
The Hawkeyes had their best scoring chances in the fifth and seventh after timely hits off the bat of freshman Cheyenne Pratt. She opened the fifth with a single and stole her third base of the season to reach scoring position with no outs. Fritsch followed with a walk, but a fielder’s choice and line out double play spoiled the opportunity.
Down to her final strike with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Pratt legged out the second triple of her career to give Iowa a fighting chance. After a Fritsch hit by pitch, Wood responded with a game-ending strikeout to earn the win.
“Cheyenne and Claire did a nice job of setting the table all night,” Looper said. “When we got to our three and four hitters, I think they limited themselves because they were trying too hard.”
Starkenburg (14-22) took the loss in the circle. She held the Wildcats to four hits, struck out four, and allowed one earned run.
Pratt (2-for-3) recorded her eighth multiple hit game of the season, while redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman stretched her reached base streak to a team-most 19 games after reaching on a fielder’s choice in the fifth. Fritsch was a perfect 1-for-1 at the plate, and sophomore Kaitlyn Mullarkey went 1-for-3 at the plate with a double to round out the Iowa offense.
Iowa and Northwestern meet for game two of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. (CT). It is Alumni Day, Kids’ Day, Beach Day at Pearl Field. The first 250 fans will receive Iowa softball trading cards, and the first 100 kids through the gates will receive free ice cream.
|Northwestern 1, Iowa 0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Northwestern (26-19, 13-7)||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||4||0|
|Iowa (16-38, 7-14)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||0|
|W: Wood (NU) 15-8|
|L: Starkenburg (IOWA) 14-22|