Hawkeyes Travel to Atlanta for ACC/Big Ten Challenge

24 Hawkeyes to Watch 2016-17 | Hawk Talk Monthly — February | Hawkeye Fan Shop — A Black & Gold Store – https://hawkeyefanshop.com/?utm_source=HawkeyeSports&utm_medium=HawkeyeSports&utm_campaign=HawkeyeSports | ACC/Big Ten Challenge Notes

This Week
The University of Iowa softball team faces Virginia Tech on Friday at 11:30 a.m. (CT) to open the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Hawkeyes take on Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech in two games each, Friday through Sunday.
Follow the Hawkeyes
For all of the latest news and information on Iowa softball, visit hawkeyesports.com. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at Facebook.com/iowahawkeyessoftball and @iowasoftball on Twitter and Instagram.
Season Tickets
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit hawkeyesports.com/tickets, 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.
ACC/Big Ten Softball Challenge
This is Iowa’s first season partipating in the ACC/Big Ten Softball Challenge. The Hawkeyes are one of eight Big Ten schools representing the conference in the Challenge, which debuted last season. The Big Ten posted a 20-12 record in the inaugural Challenge.
Ranked Foes

  • Six of Iowa’s 2017 opponents are currently ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll: Florida (1), Washington (9), Minnesota (13), Missouri (19), Arizona State (21), and California (22). Five others (Fresno State, Illinois, Ohio State, Nebraska and Virginia Tech) received votes.
  • Five foes are ranked in the USA Today/NFCA poll: Florida (1), Washington (8), Minnesota (13), Missouri (17), and Fresno State (21). California and Illinois also received votes. 

Mullarkey’s Madness

  • Kaitlyn Mullarkey leads Iowa with five hits, four runs, three RBI, and a .357 batting average. She also has a .571 slugging percentage and a .438 on-base percentage.
  • The senior racked up three doubles in the first four games this season.
  • The Park Ridge, Illinois, native leads the team defensively with 35 putouts.

Hot Start

  • Freshman pitcher Allison Doocy had five strikeouts over 7.0 innings in her first outing against Abilene Christian on Feb. 10.
  • The Ankeny, Iowa, native had a career-high seven strikeouts in 4.0 innings against Texas Tech on Feb. 11.
  • Doocy leads the team with a 1.91 ERA over 11.0 innings pitched.

Cannot, Cantu
Freshman Devin Cantu is 2-for-3 off the bench for the Hawkeyes. In four games as a pinch hitter, the freshman has an RBI and leads the team with a .667 batting average.
I’ll Take Pratt

  • Cheyenne Pratt is 3-3 in swiping stolen bases this season, which matches a personal-best single season mark. Overall, she is a perfect 9-9.
  • Pratt had a career-high two stolen bases against Texas Tech on Feb. 11.

Virginia Tech

  • Virginia Tech is 3-1 after it secured a 6-2 victory over CSU Bakersfield on Sunday in the Sportco Tournament.
  • The Hokies are led by Aysha Richardson who has four hits, three runs, two RBI and a .500 batting average.
  • Carrie Eberle leads Virginia Tech in the circle with a 1.66 ERA and four strikeouts over 12.2 innings pitched.
  • Iowa holds a 6-0 overall record with Virginia Tech. The teams last squared off on March 13, 2010 when the Hawkeyes secured a 6-5 victory.

Georgia Tech

  • The Yellow Jackets hold an 0-5 record after they suffered a 7-3 loss to North Carolina in the Puerto Rico Tournament on Sunday.
  • Jessica Kowalewicz has four hits, three runs, two RBI and a .400 batting average to lead Georgia Tech.
  • In the circle, Brooke Barfield has eight strikeouts and an 11.12 ERA over 17.0 innings pitched.
  • The Yellow Jackets lead the series, 3-0. The teams last faced on Feb. 28, 2010 when Iowa dropped a 9-8 decision in eight innings.

In the Rankings – B1G
Two Big Ten Teams are ranked in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll after opening weekend. Michigan leads the conference at No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball and No. 11 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, while Minnesota lands at No. 13 in both polls. Illinois received votes in both polls and Ohio State received votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
A Challenging Schedule
Iowa’s 2017 schedule includes 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.
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. Her next home run will move her into a tie for 12th in program history.

Around the Big Ten

  • Iowa leads the conference in double plays per game with a 1.0 average.
  • The Hawkeyes rank third in the Big Ten with a .977 fielding percentage.
  • Iowa averages 1.0 stolen bases per game, which ranks fifth in the conference.
  • Iowa’s 2.41 ERA also lands at fifth in the league.
  • Freshman Allison Doocy ranks sixth in the league with 12 strikeouts.

In the Nation

  • Iowa’s 1.0 double plays per game rank second in the nation.
  • Shayla Starkenburg is tied for 11th in the nation with one shutout.

Power Surge
After registering 11 extra-base hits in all of 2015 (59 games), junior Kaitlyn Mullarkey tallied 21 in 48 games in 2016. This season, Mullarkey recorded three doubles in the first four games.
Increased Speed

  • 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 have five stolen bases during the 2017 season.

 Experience Lineup

  • 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.

New Faces

  • 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 Dugout
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.
Hawkeye Tradition
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.