Iowa Tops Western Illinois

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team topped Western Illinois, 3-1, Tuesday night at Pearl Field.
“It’s nice when we can get on the board early,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We went on the attack and scored the three runs in the first inning. We gave up a late run, but that was the difference in the ballgame. The challenge is to continue to attack and make adjustments as the game goes on.”
Cheyenne Pratt was 2-for-3 with a run, Devin Cantu was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run, and Angela Schmiederer was 2-for-3. Claire Fritsch also chipped in a hit. Shayla Starkenburg allowed no hits through the first four innings. Overall, the senior allowed two hits, had no walks, and registered three strikeouts over 7.0 innings pitched.
“Shayla wasn’t trying to do too much,” said Looper. “She let her defense play, threw good pitches, and forced them to swing at her good pitches. She didn’t give up any walks, but made the opponent work to get on base.  She will need to continue sharpening her skills heading into the Ohio State series.”
The Hawkeyes took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Pratt singled to center field and Kaitlyn Mullarkey reached first on a catcher’s interference call to put runners on first and second before Cantu smoked a single to left field to score the duo. Cantu advanced to second on a Leatherneck error and moved to third on a Brooke Rozier ground out, scoring as Schmiederer singled to right field.
Western Illinois (19-27) got on the board in the fifth frame when Emily Ira hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
“These midweek games are challenging,” said Looper. “We don’t take these games lightly. This win allows us to gain a little confidence and helps us see what we need to work on before heading into Ohio State.”
The Hawkeyes (16-27) square off with Ohio State on Friday at 5 p.m. (CT) in game one of the three-game series in Columbus, Ohio. Game two is set for Saturday at 1 p.m., with the series finale scheduled for noon Sunday.