May 3, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Freshman right fielder Allie Wood swung the hot bat on Sunday afternoon, hitting a grand slam and a two-run home run to lead the University of Iowa softball team to its 8-6 Senior Day victory over Northwestern (27-20, 14-8).
With the win, the Hawkeyes improve to 17-39 on the season and 8-15 in Big Ten Conference play. Iowa finishes in the top 12 to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament hosted by Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on May 7-9.
“This is going to catapult us into the tournament,” head coach Marla Looper said. “It gives us a high to move into the tournament with. We have been scrapping and fighting all weekend, and it was nice that we got to end our home season with a win to take into the conference tournament.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first, the Hawkeyes answered with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Northwestern’s starting pitcher Kristen Wood issued three straight walks to sophomore Claire Fritsch, redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman, and senior Megan Blank to load the bases for Wood, who delivered four RBIs with the first grand slam of her career to left center.
Iowa resumed its scoring efforts in the second. Freshman Sarah Kurtz walked, freshman Cheyenne Pratt singled, and Gyerman walked to load the bases for Blank, who pushed a run across with a fielder’s choice.
The Wildcats tacked on a run in the top of the third, but Iowa responded with two of its own in inning. Sophomore Kaitlyn Mullarkey opened the frame with a walk and scored on a two-run home run by Wood, her second long ball in as many at bats, to put the Hawkeyes ahead 7-2.
After a three-up, three-down top of the fourth, which included a Blank to Mullarkey double play, the Hawkeyes scored for the fourth consecutive inning. Gyerman doubled with one away to reach scoring position for Blank, who plated the run with her 60th career double.
Northwestern made it interesting, adding a pair of runs in the fifth and the sixth, but the Hawkeye defense sent the Wildcats down in order in the seventh to secure the 8-6 final victory.
Wood recorded her fifth multiple hit game with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate. She set career-highs with six RBIs and two home runs in the contest.
“Allie had a great day today,” Looper said. “She was really zeroed in. She even had two strikes on that second homerun, and continued to battle until she got something she could square up. She had a great performance and fortunately runners were on. “Her grand slam set the table for the rest of the day. It was good that we got those runs because Northwestern continued to come back.”
On her Senior Day, Blank went 1-for-2 at the plate with a double, two walks, and a run scored. “Megan is calm, but has an internal fire,” Looper said “If anyone can exude those things and be those things, then they are going to have a lot of success.”
Starkenburg (15-22) earned the complete game win in the circle. She struck out two, and allowed five earned runs on eight hits.
|Iowa 8, Northwestern 6||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Northwestern (27-20, 14-8)||1||0||1||0||2||2||0||6||8||0|
|Iowa (17-39, 8-15)||4||1||2||1||0||0||X||8||7||1|
|W: Starkenburg (IOWA) 15-22|
|L: Wood (NU) 15-9|