The University of Iowa softball team opens the 2017 season this weekend in San Marcos, Texas, at the CenturyLink Classic hosted by Texas State. The Hawkeyes compete from Friday-Sunday against Abilene Christian, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas State and Texas Tech.
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For more information or to purchase tickets, visit hawkeyesports.com, call the ticket office at 1-800-IA-HAWKS or visit the ticket office located in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Fans who purchase a season ticket will receive a special edition Iowa softball blanket. Tickets start at just $12.
Time for a Rematch
This will be the third time in two seasons the Hawkeyes have faced Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Last season, Iowa fell to TAMUCC, 2-1, in both meetings at the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Tournament.
Back to the Lone Star State
For the second consecutive season, Iowa will begin the year in the Lone Star state. The Hawkeyes opened the 2016 season at the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Tournament in Corpus Christi, Texas. While there, the squad secured an 8-0 win over Sam Houston State, but suffered losses to Louisville and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
In the Heart of Texas
- The Hawkeyes have five student-athletes who hail from the state of Texas. Erin Riding (McKinney), Devin Cantu (Cedar Hill) and McKenzie Schneider (Southlake) grew up near Dallas, while Taylor MaKowsky (Tomball) was raised near Houston. Claire Fritsch is from Round Rock, Texas, which is just an hour from San Marcos.
- Abilene Christian
- Abilene Christian concluded the 2016 season with a 26-21 overall record and a 19-8 record in the Southland Conference.
- Senior Peyton Hedrick is the top returner for the Wildcats. She led the team with 12 home runs and a team-high 41 runs. Overall, she finished with a .331 batting average and a .669 slugging percentage.
- Abilene Christian won 13 of their final 17 games during the 2016 campaign, which included a 2-1 win over Tulsa.
- This will be the first meeting between the Hawkeyes and Abilene Christian.
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
- Texas A&M Corpus Christi ended the 2016 season with an 18-30 record and a 7-19 record in the Southland Conference. This season, they return four starters and seven letterwinners.
- Sophomore Candice Hadd is the top returner for the Islanders. She played and started in 47 games and amassed 34 hits, 12 runs and a .248 batting average.
- Last season, Liz Carter amassed 154 strikeouts in 142.1 innings pitched.
- The Islanders lead the series 2-0 after they topped Iowa twice last season during the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Tournament.
- Texas State finished the 2016 season with a 40-22 overall record, a 15-9 Sun Belt record and a trip to the 2016 NCAA Regionals. This was first time the team made an NCAA Regional appearance since 2012.
- Taylor Webb led Texas State last season with 47 hits and a .311 batting average.
- Randi Rupp led the squad in the circle with a 30-14 record and a 1.66 ERA. Over her 51 appearances, Rupp threw 335 strikeouts.
- Iowa holds a 3-1 record over Texas State. The teams last faced each other on March 19, 2014 when the Bobcats grabbed a 4-0 victory in San Marcos, Texas.
- The Red Raiders held a 23-32 overall record and a 6-12 record in the Big 12 last season.
- Kiani Ramsey led the team with 56 hits and a .348 batting average through 53 games played.
- Mattison Maisel and Dominique Alcocer return for Texas Tech in the circle. Maisel had a 5.07 ERA and a 7-12 record, while Alcocer collected a 6.75 ERA and an 8-13 record.
- The Red Raiders hold a 2-1 series lead over the Hawkeyes. The teams last squared off in 2001 when they split a pair of games. Texas Tech secured a 9-1, five inning win on March 15, but Iowa rebounded for a 1-0, eight inning win on March 18.
In the Rankings – B1G
Two Big Ten Teams are ranked in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason ranking and the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, both released on Jan. 31. Michigan leads the conference at No. 6 in both polls, while Minnesota lands at No. 14 in ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 16 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll.
A Challenging Schedule
Iowa will take on 12 opponents who reached the 2016 NCAA Regionals, three of which also reached the 2016 Super Regionals. Texas State, Florida, Fresno State, Washington, Arizona State, Cal, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Western Illinois and Northwestern all reached Regionals, while Florida, Washington and Missouri each advanced to the Super Regionals.
The Hawkeyes played against Wisconsin in front of 2,192 fans at Pearl Field from April 15-17. The mark set a new three-game weekend series attendance record.
In the Record Books
- Kaitlyn Mullarkey hit nine homeruns in the 2016 season, which is tied for eighth in program history.
- With 15 career blasts, Mullarkey is tied for 15th on Iowa’s all-time career home runs list.
- Around the Big Ten
- Iowa finished the 2016 season ranked seventh in the Big Ten with 0.98 stolen bases per game.
- Iowa ranked No. 8 in the Big Ten in stolen bases after the 2016 season. The Hawkeyes racked up 51 stolen bases overall.
- Kaitlyn Mullarkey tied for sixth in the league in triples with three.
- Elizabeth Wiegand ranked No. 14 in the conference in innings pitched with 140.1 through the season.
- Wiegand also finished in seventh place with 36 batters struck out looking, while Shayla Starkenburg finished eighth with 34 strikeouts.
In League Play
- Iowa finished eighth in the league with 18 home runs during conference action.
- As a team, Iowa finished sixth in the Big Ten as pitchers struck out 31 batters looking.
- The Hawkeyes finished tied for fifth in the conference with 187 assists during league games.
- Iowa amassed 10 double plays during Big Ten play, which tied for fifth in the league.
After registering 11 extra-base hits in all of 2015 (59 games), junior Kaitlyn Mullarkey tallied 21 in 48 games last season. The Park Ridge, Illinois, native led the team in home runs (9), and triples (3), and tied for first on the team in doubles (10).
After stealing 18 bags in all of 2015, Iowa swiped 51 bases in 52 games during the 2016 season.
Junior Kaitlyn Mullarkey led the team with 13 stolen bases. Of those 51 stolen bases, returnees stole 39.
- The Hawkeyes return 14 letterwinners and 10 players who started over 30 games from the 2016 season.
- All five pitchers from the 2016 season return.
- During the 2016 season, Kaitlyn Mullarkey racked up 44 hits and a team-high 38 runs in 154 at-bats. She tied a team-high 11 doubles and led the team with nine home runs for a team-best .571 slugging percentage. The nine home runs tied for eighth all-time in a single season. In addition, Mullarkey led the team with a .418 on-base percentage. The Park Ridge, Illinois, native had a team-high 13 stolen bases on 15 attempts. Defensively, she started every game at first base and led the team with 321 putouts and chipped in 25 assists.
- After a solid freshman season, sophomore Mallory Killian is poised to help the Hawkeyes during the 2017 season. Kilian split time between third base and designated player last year and amassed 24 hits and 12 runs in 93 at-bats. She also chipped in four doubles and four home runs for a .430 slugging percentage. Defensively, Kilian tallied 15 putouts and 24 assists.
- Angela Schmiederer split time between catcher and outfielder as a sophomore. She amassed 29 hits and 15 runs in 114 at-bats. She also chipped in eight doubles and three home runs for a .404 slugging percentage.
- Iowa added eight freshmen to its squad for the 2017 season.
- Devin Cantu played three seasons at Cedar Hill High School and was a three-time first team all-district selection. As a junior, Cantu was named Offensive Player of the Year.
- Havyn Monteer played at Boonville R-1 High School in Missouri and holds school records for most at bats (323), runs (144), hits (154), singles (103), and stolen bases (97) in a career.
- Taylor MaKowsky played at Klein Oak High School in Klein, Texas, and was a three-time all-district selection, which included first team honors as a senior.
- Lea Thompson played for Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was a three-time all-conference selection and earned the team’s Offensive Player of the Year award as a sophomore and junior.
- Taylor Libby competed at West High School in Iowa City. She hit .440 as a junior with 16 doubles and four home runs and currently holds the school record for doubles (16) and RBIs (45) in a single season.
- Allison Doocy played at Ankeny High School where she set the Iowa State Tournament strikeout record in 2015 with 33 strikeouts in three state tournament games. She holds the school record for strikeouts in a single season (233).
- McKenzie Schneider played at Carroll Senior High School where she batted .397, scored 110 runs, drove in 103 runs and posted a .460 on-base percentage. She hit .435, blasted seven home runs, notched 40 RBIs, and scored a team-high 50 runs as a senior.
Back in Black (and Gold)
- Megan Blank enters her first season as a volunteer assistant coach. She joins the Hawkeyes after two seasons with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch Association and one season as a volunteer assistant at Northwestern. Blank, who recently signed for her third season with the Bandits, was one of the most decorated softball players in Iowa’s history.
- Blank, a four-time All-Big Ten first team selection, had a standout career with the Hawkeyes. Blank played and started at shortstop in every game of her collegiate career. She broke or tied five school records and finished in the top 10 in 12 statistical records.
Other Staff Additions
- Daniel Gratz has joined the University of Iowa softball staff as the director of operations.
- Gratz joins the Hawkeyes after spending three seasons as head coach at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School. He also worked as assistant coach this past season for John Wood Community College.
- His accomplishments at Kennedy led Gratz to be named 2016 Conference Coach of the Year (Missouri Valley Conference) and 2016 District Coach of the Year (Iowa 5A – East District).
The Hawkeyes will once again produce their blog, The Dugout, for the 2017 season. The blog will provide fans the opportunity to connect with the student-athletes, coaches, staff and alumni around the Hawkeye softball program. The Dugout aims to deliver a unique insight into the lives of the Iowa softball team. Each week, The Dugout will feature a different softball student-athlete, coach or alum. To see the latest post, visit hawkeyesports.com.
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 1283-829-5 (.607) record in 38 seasons.