2015 Season in Review


June 17, 2015


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After earning the No. 10 seed with an 8-15 record in regular season conference play, the Hawkeyes overcame a three-run deficit against seventh-seeded Rutgers in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on May 7. Sophomore Kaitlyn Mullarkey hit a two-run blast to tie the contest 3-3 in the sixth, and redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman knocked a two-run shot out of the park in the seventh to give the Hawkeyes the lead. It proved to be the game-winner as the Iowa defense shut down the Scarlet Knights from the third inning on to secure the 5-3 win.
The opening round victory gave the Hawkeyes a rematch with the nationally ranked Golden Gophers on May 8. Redshirt junior Holly Hoffman plated two runs with a double in the top of the third to give Iowa the lead.
Redshirt sophomore Shayla Starkenburg registered a gem in the circle, holding the Gophers scoreless for just the third time this season. She allowed two hits and struck out four to secure the 2-0 win and notch Iowa’s third victory over a ranked opponent this season.
Iowa went on to face third-seeded Nebraska in the tournament semifinals on May 9. The Hawkeyes rallied to come within three runs, but could not complete the comeback as the Huskers notched the 9-6 victory. Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal berth marked its deepest tournament run since 2008.


Senior Megan Black and redshirt sophomore hurler Shayla Starkenburg were named to the Big Ten all-tournament team. Blank paced the Hawkeyes at the plate, registering a .545 batting average, a 1.000 slugging percentage, and a .545 on base percentage. The Culver City, California, native broke or tied four school records in her final game (season average, career average, doubles in a game, and doubles in a season) with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate, notching three doubles and scoring two runs.
Starkenburg started all three games in the circle for the Hawkeyes. The Ankeny, Iowa, native registered a 4.00 ERA and a 2-1 record in 21 innings pitched. Starkenburg became just the third pitcher this season to hold the nationally ranked Gophers scoreless.

Shortstop Megan Blank collected her fourth-straight NFCA honor as she was a first team All-Midwest Region pick in 2015. The senior was named to the NFCA All-Midwest Region first team as a sophomore and second team as a freshman and a junior. She is the third player in Iowa history to earn four regional honors in her career.

Senior Megan Blank received her fourth-straight first team All-Big Ten accolade and was also named to the conference’s All-Defensive Team, following the 2015 season. The shortstop is the second Iowa player to earn first team distinction four times, joining Kari Knopf (1994-97).
Blank led the Hawkeyes in batting average (.442), slugging percentage (.750), on-base percentage (.513), hits (76), doubles (20), triples (3), home runs (9) and RBIs (40) last season. In Big Ten action, Blank hit at a .419 clip, slugged .839, and compiled an on-base percentage of .543. Seven of her 20 doubles, two of her three triples, and five of her nine home runs came against conference foes.

The Hawkeyes faced three teams that appeared in the Women’s College World Series this season, including Florida, Michigan, and Oregon. The Hawkeyes upset the runner-up Wolverines, 6-4, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on March 29.

Junior Haley Hansel received the team’s Sportsmanship Award as announced by the Big Ten. Student-athletes chosen to receive the honor are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. These student-athletes must also be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.

In her final season in a Hawkeye uniform, Megan Blank broke or tied five school records. She hit a blistering .442 in her final season to break Iowa’s single-season batting record for the second time in her career. Her .437 average in 2013 topped the 20-year-old record set by Kim Davis (.428). Blank’s .442 effort in her senior campaign brought her career average to .410, which bested the program’s 18-year-old record of .409 set by Lea Twigg in 1997.
Blank also surpassed the 18-year-old career doubles record of 52 set by Kari Knopf in 1997 this season. She ended her four-year career with 63 doubles after hitting a total of 20 in 2015 to tie Iowa’s single season school record set by Liz Dennis in 2002. Blank hit her last three doubles in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament against No. 3-seeded Nebraska. Her 3-for-4 performance tied the program record for doubles in a single game (Alicia Gerlach vs. Michigan in 1999, Christy Herbert vs. Purdue in 1997).

Eleven of Iowa’s 2015 opponents appear in the final USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Poll of the year. They include: Florida (1), Michigan (2), Oregon (7), Oklahoma (9), Louisiana-Lafayette (11), Missouri (14), Minnesota (15), UCF (16), North Carolina State (19), North Dakota State (T25), and Hofstra (RV).

Shortstop Megan Blank signed a one-year professional contract in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) with the Chicago Bandits. The senior is the first Hawkeye to play professionally since 2010, and the eighth to extend her career into the professional ranks in program history.

Juniors Haley Hansel and Whitney Repole and sophomore Kara Misel were named to the spring Academic All-Big Ten team following the 2015 season. To be eligible for an Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.

? Career runs scored: 5th all-time (130)
? Career hits: Tied for 5th all-time (253)
? Career doubles: School record holder (63)
? Career triples: Tied for 2nd all-time (13)
? Career HR: 4th all-time (27)
? Career RBI: 2nd all-time (153)
? Career Average: School record holder (.410)
? Doubles in a season: 20 in 2015, ties school record (Liz Dennis, 2002)
? Triples in a season: 5 in 2012, tied for 8th all-time
? HR in a season: 11 in 2013, 3rd all-time
? RBI in a season: 59 in 2013, 2nd all-time
? Average in a season: .442 in 2015, school record holder

? Senior Megan Blank finished the season ranked second in batting average (.442) and doubles (20), fifth in hits (76), sixth in slugging percentage (.750) and on base percentage (.513), and seventh in total bases (129) and triples (3).
? Defensively, Blank led the Big Ten in assists (142) and fielding double plays (22).
? Redshirt junior Holly Hoffman tied for fourth in the Big Ten in runners caught stealing (12).
? Redshirt sophomore pitcher Shayla Starkenburg led the Big Ten in innings pitched (250.0). She also finished second in appearances (49), third in games started (38), fourth in looking strike outs (64), and fifth in strike outs (194).
? Sophomore Kaitlyn Mullarkey was hit by a pitch 11 times this season, tying for the seventh most in the Big Ten conference.

? The Hawkeyes finished the season ranked fourth nationally in double plays (35) and fifth in double plays per game (0.59).
? Megan Blank’s .442 batting average ranks 23rd nationally. The senior finished the 2015 season ranked nationally in doubles per game (33rd; 0.34), on-base percentage (57th; .513), and slugging percentage (69th; .750).

Iowa led the Big Ten Conference and ranks fourth nationally in fielding double plays with 35 on the season. The Hawkeyes have recorded two double plays in a game eight times: No. 6 Louisiana-Lafayette (Feb. 20), No. 6 Oklahoma (March 15), Tulsa (March 18), Nebraska (March 25), No. 4 Michigan (March 29), Illinois (April 4), Minnesota (April 25 and May 8), and Northwestern (May 2).

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Shayla Starkenburg more than tripled her strikeout total of 51 from a season ago, registering 194 in 2015. She also significantly raised her strikeouts per appearance average from 2.43 (51 strikeouts in 21 appearances) in 2014 to 3.96 (194 in 49 appearances) this year. Starkenburg fanned a career high 11 batters in Iowa’s 3-2 10 inning victory over Wisconsin on April 12. She also ranks second in the Big Ten in appearances (49), third in games started (38), fourth in looking strike outs (64), and fifth in strike outs (194).

The Hawkeyes tied for sixth in the Big Ten in doubles. Iowa recorded 82 doubles on the season. Senior Megan Blank, the career doubles school record holder (63), led the team with 20, while redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman had 11.

Iowa finished the season with nine triples, tying for sixth in the Big Ten. Senior Megan Blank led the team with three, while redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman and freshman Cheyenne Pratt each had two.

The Hawkeyes enjoyed a jump offensively from 2014 to 2015. Iowa saw improvements in batting average (.250 to .261), slugging percentage (.376 to .396), on-base percentage (.321 to .352), doubles (59 to 82), home runs (23 to 35), RBIs (122 to 217), walks (97 to 180), runs scored (141 to 239) and runs per game (3.0 to 4.1).

Three Hawkeyes are hit .300+ in conference play this season. Senior Megan Blank led the team with a .419 clip, while freshman Angela Schmiederer (.400) joined her in the 400s. Redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman recorded a .366 average through 23 conference contests this season.

Freshman right fielder Allie Wood led Iowa to its 8-6 Senior Day victory over Northwestern on May 3. Wood gave the Hawkeyes an early lead when she sent the first grand slam of her career over the left field wall in the first, before logging her second long ball in as many at bats belting a two-run blast to center in the bottom of the third. The Cypress, California, native recorded her fifth multiple-hit game of the season with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate. She set career-highs with six RBIs and two home runs.

The Hawkeyes registered a 2-1 series victory over Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, on April 17-18. Iowa took the first game of the series, 2-0, after a two-run blast from senior Megan Blank. After falling, 4-1, in game two, the Hawkeyes took game three, 5-1. Iowa claimed its second consecutive Big Ten series after taking 2-of-3 from the Badgers on April 10-12 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Shayla Starkenburg was 2-0 against Purdue on April 17-18. The redshirt sophomore notched the complete game shutout against the Boilermakers on April 17, allowing two hits and one free pass in the contest. Starkenburg registered her second complete game victory on April 18 after giving up one earned run on five hits and one walk. The Ankeny, Iowa, native gave up just one extra base hit in 14 innings and posted a 0.50 ERA.

Shayla Starkenburg threw a career-high 10 innings and fanned a career-high 11 batters in Iowa’s 10-inning win over the Badgers on April 12. The redshirt sophomore gave up three earned runs on 13 hits and two walks. The Ankeny, Iowa, native led the Hawkeyes in wins (17), ERA (4.96), appearances (49), starts (38), complete games (31), shutouts (5), and strikeouts (194) this season.

Sammi Gyerman hit for the cycle to lead the Hawkeyes past the Illini, 15-7 in five innings, on April 3. The redshirt sophomore recorded a double and a triple in Iowa’s nine-run first inning before hitting a home run in the third and a single in the fourth. The San Pedro, California, native, became the first Hawkeye in school history to hit for the cycle and just the third player in the Big Ten to accomplish the feat. Gyerman posted career bests in hits (4), RBIs (6) and runs scored (3) in the contest.

The Hawkeyes handed the No. 4 Wolverines their fifth loss of the season with a come-from-behind victory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on March 29. Down four runs in the top of the sixth, Iowa scored three runs off of a pair of home runs by redshirt junior Holly Hoffman and freshman Allie Wood. The Hawkeyes continued their rally in the seventh when sophomore Kaitlyn Mullarkey capitalized on an RBI opportunity with a double down the right line to give Iowa a 5-4 lead. The Hawkeyes added an insurance run on a RBI ground out from Wood to take a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh. After a Wolverine reached on a single to start the seventh, Iowa used a 4-6-3 double play to silence the scoring chance and ultimately secure the upset victory.

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Shayla Starkenburg limited the Wolverines to just four hits in the first game of a doubleheader on March 28. Only three other held Michigan to four hits or less this season. They include: then-ranked No. 1 Florida (2 hits), Kent State (3 hits) and Illinois State (4 hits). The Ankeny, Iowa, native registered a complete-game upset win on March 29. After a rocky first inning Starkenburg settled in and 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.

Senior Megan Blank recorded her 53rd career double against Nebraska on March 25 to break Iowa’s 18-year-old career doubles record. Blank is now in sole possession of the Iowa softball career doubles record with 63. The previous record of 52 was set by Kari Knopf in 1997.

Redshirt sophomore Sammi Gyerman and senior Megan Blank registered back-to-back home runs to help Iowa secure a 7-6 victory over Tulsa on March 18. The feat marked the second time the duo has gone back-to-back this season (Cal State Fullerton, 3/7/15).

The Hawkeyes defeated No. 17 UCF on Feb. 27 to notch their first win over a ranked opponent this season. Junior Erin Erickson used a squeeze bunt to score the eventual game-winning run in the fifth to guide the Hawkeyes to a 3-2 victory. Redshirt sophomore Shayla Starkenburg was credited with the complete game win. She allowed one earned run on six hits and struck out three.

Junior Erin Erickson was named to the Ragin’ Cajun Invitational All-Tournament team following the five-game invitational on Feb. 20-22. Erickson posted a .308 batting average and a .615 slugging percentage on the weekend with a double, home run, and two RBIs.

Redshirt sophomore Shayla Starkenburg registered her first career no-hitter against Southern Utah on Feb. 7. Starkenburg fanned a career-high eight batters and only walked three in seven innings of work. She became just the seventh pitcher in Iowa history to toss a no-hitter, and the first pitcher to do so since Amanda Zust on March 21, 2010. Starkenburg’s no-hitter is the 17th in Iowa softball history.

Senior shortstop Megan Blank was named a Preseason First Team All-Big Ten infielder by College Sports Madness on Feb. 4. Blank, a three-time regular season First Team All-Big Ten honoree, led the Hawkeyes in batting average (.361), slugging percentage (.602), on-base percentage (.452), hits (48), doubles (11), triples (3) and RBIs (25) in 2014.

The Hawkeyes have benefited from two new facilities in 2015 — the indoor Iowa Turf Facility, located at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex, and the Jacobson Hitting Facility, located in football’s former weight room. The HTRC Iowa Turf Facility has enabled the program to have consistency in team practices, while the Jacobson hitting cages have allowed student-athletes to take extra reps at any time.

Iowa has made four Women’s College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history, and the four WCWS appearances equal the second most in conference history. The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships (1989, 1997, 2000, 2003) and two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003). Iowa holds a 1270-793-5 (.616) record in 37 seasons.

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